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H J)AYS 






THE UNIVERSITY 

OF ILLINOIS 

LIBRARY 

D6T2tn 
v.<2 



MASSTON: 

A STORY OF THESE MODERN DAYS. 



S?<iflant?nc qjrcSS 

BALI.ANTYNE, HANSON AND CO. 
EDINBURGH AND LONDON 



M A S S T O N : 



A STORY OF THESE MODERN DAYS. 



A. J. DUFFIELD 

AND 

W. H. POLLOCK. 



1 Some there be that shadows kiss ; 
Such have but a shadow's bliss : 
There be fools alive, I wis, 
Silver'd o'er ; and so was this." 

— Merchant of Venice, ii. g. 



IN TWO VOLUMES. 
VOL. II. 



LONDON: 

SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE. 

1877- 

[All rights reserved.'] 






M ASSTON: 

^4 STORY OF THESE MODERN DA YS. 

CHAPTER I. 

So, when my path seems dark and drear, 
And when no more your voice can cheer 
My failing strength, and when no more 
I, struggling through the surf to shore, 
Can see far shining in your eyes, 
Past where the angry breakers rise 
The light that shows me which way lies 
The one clear course ; and when I think ; 
♦ Not seeing it, that I must sink, 

My soul with sore fatigue down prest 
Shall still in thoughts of you find rest. 

The farm called the Hermitage, to which on 
a memorable occasion Dr. Cumberladge had 
conveyed Sarah Armstrong, was a dismantled 
dilapidated place at that time — that is to say, 
it offered about as many facilities to live in as 
a spider's web does to the larger and the 

VOL. II. a 

I 003566 



2 MASSTON. 

lesser, the painted and the buzzing, flies. 
There was a certain central part where a 
limited number of people might find tolerable 
comfort ; the rest was a wilderness, and it was 
beyond the Doctor's power to subdue to 
order the chaos which was his inheritance 
from his ancestors. This chaos had, like that 
of planets, many elements of brightness and 
strength, but they had been for a long time 
floating uncombined in the embrace of fog, 
for lack of some forming hand to o-ive them 
shape and comeliness. Soon after, by the 
Doctor's use of Sarah's misapprehension, her 
son vanished from her, she longed for some 
object on which to lavish her love. She had 
forgotten, or rather had put away from her 
memory, her father and mother. She had for 
a time merged her love for them in a new 
love, which she thought included and glorified 
her filial love. All the drudgery she had en- 
dured at their farm, viewed through the light 
of this new love, became refined and refining 



MASSTON. 3 

worship. With what delight did she tell 
Robert Warner of her home experiences — of 
the sweet breath of the kine as she milked 
them — of the yet sweeter breath of the early- 
morning, when, as she fed the poultry, the sun 
came out and warmed her for the labour of 
the new-born day. She would tell him, too, 
of her fancies — of how the flowers kissed each 
other as they awoke ; how from the hedgerows 
which had been their pillows she saw the wild- 
flowers rise to deck the day and lighten her 
tasks ; how the birds- carolled with her in 
pure joy, and carried their joy with her morn- 
ing prayers to heaven. All this did she de- 
light to tell him. And the posy which we 
have seen her carry to him one evening at 
the Oxford Works, bore in it, had he but 
known it, the memory of all these things, and 
with it his salvation. And Warner, and all 
those other memories likewise, had been put 
away. 

But after the dream which she finished as 



4 MASSTON. 

she slept on the shoulder of Trusty, the great 
dog, who earned a silver collar by shielding 
her from the cold stones, she woke in the 
presence of the Doctor and Dame Cumber- 
ladge to the first instinct of a new life which 
was to find its full unfolding in her care of the 
Hermitage Farm. And upon this ancient place 
was bestowed the love that was in Sarah Arm- 
strong, and which could not be killed even by 
the treachery of Robert Warner. 

It seemed as if this love rave j ts own f orm . 
ing life to the gray walls upon which it fell. 
Like the sun itself it searched out the hidden 
places in which the damp cold collected. Even 
the mosses, hitherto smothered in silent tears, 
burst into flower. It brought to the dark 

O 

places it visited the remembrance and capa- 
city of pleasure and good cheer, as the pre- 
sence of a kind nurse brings comfort to the 
neglected bed of a sick child. Its warmth 
appeared to arrest decay, but cared most of 
all to linger on the walls of the old chapel, 



MASSTON. * 5 

once the shrine of saints and the goal of 
knights, now the home of emptiness and the 
habitation of weeds. 

In this chapel there were niches where stood 
the Cumberladges of old, who looked down 
upon her in their stony panoply and by their 
very stillness seemed to shame the restless 
turmoil raging near them. There was some- 
thing reproachful in their silent dignity ; some- 
thing which seemed not so much to regret the 
wisdom of a past time, as to mourn the folly 
of the present, insomuch that Dr. Cumber- 
ladge, who, although a practical man had in 
him some inherited tinge of superstition, was 
loath to enter the chapel in a half light alone ; 
he would say the sightless eyes of the statues 
looked through him and chilled his bones. But 
a short while after Sarah had taken the knights 
under her care, the Doctor strolled into the 
chapel to find what change she had wrought, 
and on coming out he met her, and said with 
one of his meaning smiles — 



6 MASSTON. 

" Why, Sarah, you have brought the knights 
to life a^ain." 

To which she answered, " Surely not ; they 
have only been forgotten. It is they who have 
given new life to me." 

What Sarah had done for the knights, who 
of course were the most difficult people to 
manage, she had done for the rest of the farm 
— that is, she had given a living, happy, human 
expression to every abject corner of a dying 
world. 

This the Doctor discovered in due time, and, 
like the sensible man he was, put his discovery 
to admirable use. Thus did Sarah Armstrong, 
in return for the life that the Doctor had re- 
stored to her, prepare for him and his a new 
life in an old home which the stress of life had 
filled with the triumph of decay. 

Pleased but not content with Sarah's handi- 
work, he would add to it that touch of grace 
which the artist alone is able to supply, and 
this touch he thought to find in the handiwork 



MASSTON. » 7 

of Paul Blanchard, who became known to him 
through his association with Jeavons. Indeed 
it was as much to know the artist as to obtain 
his work that the Doctor proposed to Blan- 
chard to come to the farm, to see what could 
be done with the chapel, and to choose his own 
day for the visit. 

Now there dawned some days in Masston 
which neither its smoke nor its black mud 
could sully ; and there were some people ill 
content to live in it, who had left in them so 
much sympathy with the brightness of nature 
as made them take delight in these days, and 
spend them if they could in the green fields 
instead of in the murky, noisy streets. It was 
on such a day that Blanchard set out for the 
Hermitage. To have remained in the hideous 
den of a town on such a morning would have 
been as craven as for a prisoner to remain in 
his sickly cell after the door had been thrown 
open by his deliverer. 

To us who have much love for Blanchard, it 



5 MASSTON. 

is unpleasant to confess that on this particular 
morning he had reasons of his own for seeking 
whatever air and freshness he could. On the 
day before the month, during which he had 
promised to Jeavons that he would taste no 
more spirits, was out, and the result, which was 
perhaps not unnatural, had followed, Blan- 
chard was at work on a very delicate piece of 
designing, and found that neither his brain nor 
his hand would move with the skill and rapidity 
he desired. And more from instinct than re- 
solve, he attempted to overcome his depression 
by so drowning it that neither it nor any other 
human feeling should affect him. In short, he 
got very drunk. And it was perhaps as much 
to avoid the shame of meeting Jeavons as for 
any other reason, that he left Masston the next 
day. By a coincidence which, although com- 
mon, is still very strange, as Blanchard walked 
across the fields to the Hermitage, the Doctor 
drove into Masston by the road. 

It was a restoring walk ; the trees were very 



MASSTON. y 

dear to him, and the sky which peeped through 
their branches, and the red and yellow flowers, 
which stood in the ranks of the grass as officers 
in fine accoutrements stand among their men. 
And although he imagined that these superior 
beings had seen him in his gross stupidities 
and his helpless vices — his eyes squinting, and 
his tongue swaying his brain in vulgar mas- 
tery — yet he also knew their divine charity. 
They would not chide ; and it was perhaps by 
their silence that he was won back to their 
love. 

" Is Dr. Cumberladge at home ? " the de- 
signer asked of a neat maiden who opened 
the door. 

" Master has gone to the town for to bring 
Mr. Blanchard." 

" My name is Blanchard ; can you show me 
the way to the chapel ? " 

Paul was led across an old-fashioned garden, 
in which wallflowers and double daisies formed 
the flowering aristocracy, on the other side of 



IO MASSTON. 

which, hidden behind a clump of trees, stood 
the chapel. 

" You will find the door open," said the 
maid, pointing it out to him, and went back to 
the house. 

Blanchard passed through a half-open door, 
in an ivy-hung porch, and found himself in the 
presence of the knights. 

He had come into an atmosphere of that 
sweet tranquillity for which his morning's walk 
had prepared him. Above the heads of the 
stone Cumberladges hung a series of pictures 
which not only gladdened his eyes but instructed 
them. Vivid pictures they were, of trees and 
sky framed in the chapel windows, from which 
the stained glass had long since fallen, and 
these had taken its place. They were the 
same trees and sky he had seen in his walk, 
but thus seen they begat in him a desire to 
know the Artist; and they had for him some 
special significance, which gave a definite shape 
to the crowding memories of a time before they 



MASSTON. II* 

were defiled with the touch of Masston. From 
beholding the windows his eyes fell to the floor, 
and from the floor they rose again to the pillars, 
whose capitals were lost among the cobwebs 
of the aees, here and there defaced and broken 
by cruelties which brought the present and 
the past together with the shock of an out- 
rage. And the people who had wrought this 
ruin were no more conscious of what they 
were about, than are two irresponsible forces 
which meet and clash in a dark hole called a 
tunnel. 

" There's little for me to do here," said 
Blanchard reflectively, as he looked through 
the cluster of pillars in the darkest corner of 
the chapel. From this, as the designer spoke, 
there seemed to come a gleam of sudden light, 
which under his graze resolved itself into a 
white figure that the sun, which had been over- 
clouded for a moment, greeted with a swift 
beam falling upon it through one of the ancient 
windows. As the form advanced towards 



1 2 MASSTON. 

Blanchard, who watched its coming with an 
astonished reverence, he discovered more 
clearly the face above it. 

There are men in whom, for themselves at 
least, the spirit of prophecy yet survives ; who 
at certain moments are forced by it to say 
within themselves, " This thing, or person, will 
influence and alter the course of my life, and 
of all life, in so far as life shall have any 
preciousness for me." It is not strange that 
this should be so. What men call the gift 
of prophecy, is but the power of being able 
to concentrate into a momentary space the 
calculation of cause and effect, which is gene- 
rally extended over a long time. Blanchard 
was a man of quick perceptions. In spite of 
the dulling influence of liquor, which has the 
same effect on some minds as frost has on 
window-panes, he had feelers and tentacles 
in every direction which conveyed to him, 
with the swiftness of the harp in discovering 
its music, what common men or others dif- 



MASSTON. 13 

ferently endowed arrive at only by toil and 
weariness ; and perhaps, in his present mood 
of reaction, these feelers were in an unusually 
excited state. Be that as it may : they told 
him with an insistance he knew to be war- 
ranted, that Sarah Armstrong, — for the sweet 
figure which came from behind the pillars was 
hers, — would have some potent sway over his 
being. When she drew near him with the sun- 
light still caressing her she said — 

" You must, I think, be Mr. Blanchard." 

Paul bowed in answer. 

" The Doctor told me of your coming," she 
continued, " and I came to take a last look at 
these pillars, and try to find out why men are 
so fond of pulling down old things, and replac- 
ing them by things which speedily rot or tar- 
nish or rust. I cannot tell you how glad I 
am to have heard the words you said." She 
paused, as if expecting some reply, but the 
designer only raised his eyes to hers, and let 
them fall again, making a bow, into which he 



14 MASSTON. 

threw an earnest expression of sympathy, de- 
votion, and obedience. 

What could he do, or say ? being burdened 
with the sweetest yoke a man can have laid 
upon him ; his heart full of rapture, and his 
mind with ecstacy too great for aught but sil- 
ence ? He stood looking at her as a prisoner, 
watching the sky through his iron bars, regards 
the little bird which has suddenly alighted on 
his sill, afraid to move or speak lest he should 
frighten it away. 

Sarah, who saw in Paul's glance that she 
was understood, continued — 

(; I have grown to love this chapel very 
dearly; I have saved it from the disease of 
decay which threatened it with death ; and, as 
time has gone by, have grown to think — you 
will say it is only my fancy — that the walls, 
the pillars, the statues, have some knowledge 
of me, and some love for the care I have be- 
stowed upon them." 

Blanchard looked up again at her, and said, 



MASSTON. 15 

" I could well imagine it. I have heard from 
Dr. Cumberladge what this place was once. 
I see what it is now, and I repeat there is little 
for me to do here. A piece of pavement, some 
mason's art to heal the bruise of time, or the 
ill-usage of men, or swine, anything more would 
be out of place. As for introducing any new 
design, or any old design furbished into new- 
ness, I could not even dream of it." 

"And I had been dreading your coming," 
said Sarah, " lest you should change the old 
order that I love." 

" No. I am a designer, but in spite of that 
I have some reverence left for the work of 
better men than myself. Sooner than restore, 
as it is miscalled, one of these statues, I would 
break it to pieces." 

Sarah looked at him with gratitude and 
admiration, and said, " The statues, happily, 
are out of the reach of idle and cruel hands. 
They are less hurt than the things nearer the 
ground." 



1 6 MASSTON. 

" Yes," replied Blanchard ; " to be above the 
reach of the touch of cruelty or corruption is 
safety indeed." 

There was a mournful cadence in the voice 
which caught Sarah's ear ; in his attitude there 
was a dejection which perhaps only a woman's 
eye can espy in a man — for she only possesses 
the helping pity that ripens into love — and she 
seldom sees a trouble or a sorrow but she lon^s 
to turn it into joy. Presently she said, " Will 
you tell me what you think should be done to 
the pillars, and would you open this window ? " 

Paul had not observed the blocked-up 
window, and many another thing had escaped 
him which Sarah pointed out. Nor did he 
seem to notice cornice or mullion, moulding or 
chamfer, when she brought him to them, so 
occupied was he with her — with the sound of 
her voice, the motion of her limbs, and the 
music which appeared to him to come from her 
whole figure when in repose. Till then he had 
never seen a woman's lips, or known that even 



MASSTON. 1 7 

these portals of love can give forth light as 
sweet and swift as the glance of an eye. Till 
then he did not know that all the sweet but 
silent influences of heaven and earth have their 
conductors to a man's soul even as the light- 
ning has to the heart of oaks and the centre 
of rocks. 

They went together to talk of ruins, and 
discuss repairs, and wander through fallen frag- 
ments and over dislocated stones carved by 
human hands, and lo ! their speech changed ; 
and they found themselves talking indeed of 
ruins and of polished stones and of a temple, 
but one not made with hands. 

Sarah spoke much to Paul ; but it was of the 
present — the very present then before them — 
with no more of the past clinging to it than 
there clings of the cold green of fruit to its 
warm and purple ripeness. 

Paul, on the other hand, was thrown on his 
regrets, like a school-boy sent back to pick up 
his lesson which he has dropped in the play- 

VOL. II. b 



1 8 MASSTON. 

ground — a waste of time often attended with 
tears and shame. 

Sarah learnt from what Paul said of himself, 
and from the nature of his sayings, now timid, 
now acid, now bold even to laughter, that he 
had believed much in his own powers to do 
some good work, and that this belief was pass- 
ing from him. 

" It is too late now," he said with a sigh, too 
prolonged and deep to be born of the moment. 
" I see the straight road, and would give much 
to walk in it. But my feet have too long 
learned to travel in crooked ways." And half 
in vexation and half in courtesy he turned 
abruptly to examine some metal-work on 
the door near which they stood and said, 
" I have no right to bring my empty com- 
plaints to one whom I have met thus sud- 
denly." He wished to add that in spite of 
this he felt it easy to open his heart to her 
as if she were an old friend whom he had 
discovered after a long and vain search. But 



MASSTON. To 

the words lost themselves on their way to 
his lips. 

"If I could help you from any trouble you 
have," she answered, " I would be sflad." 

" I fear any one who tried to help me for 
long, would be dragged into the mud of my 
own hopelessness. Once my oldest friend 
came out to meet me in the dark, and brought 
his lantern, without which we could not find 
our way through clay and mire, or pass the 
yawning mouths of old pits, without danger of 
falling into them. I, beina- strong in self-will 
and folly, would do nothing but carry the 
lantern, and no sooner had I taken it, than I 
stumbled and fell, and the light went out, 
when there were two benighted fools instead 
of one." 

" You should unlearn that fear, and you 
would feel more trust in yourself." He pon- 
dered a moment at these words — he had heard 
them before, but this time they were set to a 
fresh accompaniment — and he said in a voice 



20 MASSTON. 

attuned to the new music, " I have one friend 
who has stuck by me so far, and I must not 
disappoint him." 

" Think," said Sarah, with her thrice-blessed 
naturalness, "that you have two." 

Blanchard's eyes expressed his thanks for 
these words, his voice dared not. Immediately 
afterwards he went away, saying, " I must 
come here again to see the Doctor; shall I see 

you there, and," " hope for further speech, 

and further love, and strength," he would have 
said, had he not been stopped by the confu- 
sion into which he was plunged, like a horse 
that is checked by his rider in the middle 
of a leap. 

" I am always here, and most likely I shall 
see you when you come." 

Blanchard then left the chapel, revolving 
many things in his swift mind which had no 
place there when he entered it. As he crossed 
the belt of trees, Sarah looked after him till he 
was out of sight 



MASSTON. 2 1 

When next she saw Dame Cumberladae, 
who made some general inquiries regarding 
Paul Blanchard's visit, Sarah answered that 
he had most soft brown eyes, — a reply which 
Dame Cumberladge reported to the Doctor. 



( 22 ) 



CHAPTER II. 

" The soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed, 
Lets in new lights through chinks that Time has made." 

— Waller. 

Amadis was not more proud in discovering 
Oriana than was Dr. Cumberladge in finding 
Sarah Armstrong. It is true that the master 
passion of the knight was love, that of the 
Doctor compassion. Both have their martyr- 
dom, also their unfading joys; and he who would 
reap a harvest of the one, must be prepared to 
pass through the fires of the other. In many 
cases the costly benevolence which the good 
Doctor had poured into the laps of those who 
turned out to be nothing but worthless 
wretches, had been returned in nought else 
than revilings. Even his wife had once been 
inclined to cast in his teeth the charge of 



MASSTON. 23 

extravagance and folly, but she had resisted 
that temptation, and for ever after remained 
steadfast to her husband in all he did. When 
the Doctor found his wife loving Sarah Arm- 
strong with a love mixed with admiration and 
delieht, he lost all recollection of the scoffs and 
jeers and ingratitude which now and then 
came on him, as come plagues and diseases on 
those who set themselves to do battle with 
them, and he even forgot the chagrin and 
disgust which had followed almost all his 
efforts to do orood to sinful men and faithless 
women. Ninety-nine of these had told him to 
his face that they had no need of him ; and 
had gone on prospering in their own way — 
turning his mercy into what cannot be other- 
wise called than bestial success. But this one 
out of the hundred, was worth all the ninety- 
nine put together ; and in Sarah Armstrong, 
the good Cumberladge found an enduring joy. 

And yet he must pay a heavy price for his 
possession. Full fifteen years had rolled on 



24 MASSTON. 

since the drizzling ni°fht in which the doe 
Trusty was promised his silver collar for the 
good service he had done ; and there had 
not come and gone one single day of every 
year of those fifteen years, but had borne its 
own most precious fruit of unexpected blessing. 
The payment for this was to be full ten years 
of constant daily pain, not only to Dr. Cumber- 
ladge, but likewise to his wife. 

Sarah had never quitted the Hermitage since 
the events already recorded. The Cumber- 
ladies had made it an occasional resort until 
the little Cumberladges became numerous, and 
the Doctor made it a permanent home. The 
life and soul of this home was Sarah, and 
she it was who gave it to him, in return for 
the home he had provided for her, when her 
own father and mother had forsaken her. 
Good and strong, and thoroughly healthy as 
Cumberladge was, he was glad to leave the 
trickery and shifts, the cruelty and lies, daily 
enacted before his face in Masston. Why 



MASSTON. f$ 

should he not be likewise swept along by the 
Masston stream into the same gulf to which it 
sped ? His family had increased — was growing 
apace, with its needs and cares, and all the 
fiery trials which make red hot a man's minted 
coin, so that it can neither stay in his pocket, 
nor stick to his fingers, and he must go and 
live there where the earth was a little closer to 
heaven than it was in Masston. 

So he went to the Hermitage ; it was the 
result of an accident after all. 

When Sarah's son had proved to Dr. Cum- 
berladge that he intended to live, and gave 
manifest token of possessing sound limbs and a 
bright and happy spirit, he was brought from 
the forest cottage where he had been nurtured, 
and to which he had been taken immediately 
after his anonymous appearance in the world, 
to be a playmate for Master Shirley Cumber- 
ladge, a delicate little prince of nearly his 
own age. The ambition of this five-year-old 
Cumberladge was to go out into all the world 



2 6 MASSTON. 

and kill dragons, and deliver maidens from the 
hands of monstrous giants who dwelt in castles, 
whose towers touched the stars. He did this, 
by lying prone on the hearth-rug all day, read- 
ing books, and dreaming of what he had read 
at night, whether asleep or wide-awake. The 
consequence was that the child sickened ; but 
his sickness increased when they took away 
from him his chronicles, and he would inevit- 
ably have died if the Doctor his father had not 
prescribed for him. 

The prescription was Sarah's son, who, under 
the name of Robert Hugh Armitage, became 
minister of health at the age of six to Shirley 
Cumberladge. The two children grew up to- 
gether, slept in the same room together, wore 
the same style and kind of clothing, read the 
same books, sat on the same form in the same 
school, and won equal prizes in all contests. 

One day the two boys fought. The boy 
Hugh, more able than Shirley, had finished his 
school work, and was busy making a clean 



MASSTON. 27 

copy of verses he had written to his mother, 
whose birthday was due on the morrow. 

Shirley, in a fit of irritation, or mischief, or 
both, dropped a blot of ink on to the gold-bor- 
dered sheet of paper bought by the poet, and 
spoilt it. The poet's soul was fired with anger, 
and he exclaimed in high tones, 

" My mother shall know of this." 

" She is not your mother," retorted the 
prince with scorn, and slapped the poet in the 
face. Then came the fight, and prince and 
poet most cruelly demonstrated that they were 
both of them sound in wind and limb, and that 
the Doctor's prescription for Master Shirley 
had proved effectual. 

"Why, Hugh, what on earth is the matter ? " 
exclaimed Dame Cumberladge, as the boy, 
with blood on his garments, and fear, mingled 
with wrath in his eyes, presented himself to 
her. 

" Are you not my mother ? " he asked in a 
troubled voice, and with a tumult in his whole 



2 8 MASSTON. 

being as grown men have been known to 
suffer when they have asked themselves if they 
were awake or only dreaming. 

" My poor boy," was the only reply he 
received, together with the touch of a friendly 
hand that pressed his little head against the 
lady's silk dress. 

Then, in the twinkling of an eye, was the 
whole world filled with misery and pain for 
one of its children. He had no mother — that 
is to say, this most loving lady, whose eyes to 
him were as soft as flowers, whose morning 
kiss was heaven's dowry, and whose love was 
his patent of life, was, as his enemy had said, 
not his mother. But she was the mother of 
him who had struck him in the face. He 
had not felt that blow till now. It separated 
him from all that he possessed, and what was 
worse, it opened his eyes to the sea of cruelty 
which he knew not to exist until he found 
himself in the midst of its awful billows. 

Sorrow often brings with it light and wisdom, 



MASSTON. 29 

even though it be too late to be of other use 
than to luxuriate in its possession. Sorrow 
may show us the land of promise in a moment's 
time, but will not help us to lift one leg 
before another to enter it. And some light 
did sorrow bring even to this child ; whether 
a light of life or of death, sorrow could not tell 
him— it could only urge him to follow it, and 
he did ; and that light led him to a land he 
knew nothing of and which knew nothing of 
him. He fled, for he could do nothing else 
than fly from him who had struck him a blow 
which had gone to his heart and spilt its 
warmest blood ; and, cruellest of all, had cut 
him off from her whom he had loved, as one 
who has a rig-nt to love the dearest and best 
of all human beings. 

Then, perhaps, sorrow is a revolving light, 
which, when it shines on one, turns darkness 
on to another. For, when Dr. Cumberladge 
came to know all the day's work, and found 
that his god-son — the son of his friend — the 



30 MASSTON. 

son of his own mercy, whom he had designed 
to be a ministering an^el, or an aveneino- 
Astraea — had really fled from him into the 
very same world from which he had rescued 
his mother, that her son, as it would seem, 
might only come to the greater grief, such 
sorrow laid hold of Dr. Cumberladge as only 
comes to those who are able to discern that it 
is without remedy or removal. 

He discovered, when it was of no use but 
to torment him, that he had no more right to 
brine a child into his own home, warm and 
feed and nurture it, and leave it without pro- 
vision or right of inheritance, than has a man 
the right to bring a child into the world and 
leave it to gain a living by its cries. 

Whatever evil shall come on that boy stray- 
ing away from all that was dear and holy to 
him, Dr. Cumberladge must share. 

Whatever exposure, humiliation, disaster, or 
punishment ensue, must fall most on him who 
once left the mother of that boy to perish. 



MASSTON. 3 1 

The first trouble fell on the Doctor. He 
had made himself responsible for this boy. He 
had voluntarily taken him off his own father's 
hands, and, certain conditions being fulfilled, 
that father should never hear a word breathed 
regarding his unhappy offspring. Those con- 
ditions had been strictly and regularly com- 
plied with. And yet, in spite of all precaution 
and providence, here was this son of Sarah 
Armstrong bringing ten thousand times more 
trouble on everybody than he could have 
brought had Dr. Cumberladge not intervened. 
He had moreover deprived a mother of her 
child, which as the Doctor himself now knew 
and declared was nothing else than robbing 
God. All this, and much more, came out as 
clear and distinct as fire brings out secret 
writing. All the good motives, the benevo- 
lent aims, and high promises which had guided 
the saviour of Sarah Armstrong were turned 
into accusing spirits, which, day and night, 
pressed on him their disappointments and their 



2,2 MASSTON. 

sarcasms as if they had been so many haggard 
wives asking back their youth and bloom, and 
cursing him, and alike themselves, for being no 
longer what they were when they were incap- 
able of anything but pure rapture. 

Acting on what he conceived to be his duty, 
Cumberladge, choking with vexation, proceeded 
to Mr. R. W. Warner's works to convey the 
particulars of his son's flight to his father. 

If a highly respectable person, a pillar of the 
church, a friend of the clergy, and acquainted 
with bishops be told that his early sins are run- 
ning somewhere about the world, and may at 
some awful moment — say at a dinner-party, con- 
sisting of holy men and holy women, engaged 
in sipping delightful wines and discussing free 
grace, or final perseverance — turn up from 
under the table, clothed in rags and smelling of 
swine, to claim their prodigal father ; surely we 
ought to sympathise with that person, and 
hope that his punishment will not be greater 
than he can bear. 



MASSTON. 23 

Poor relations are bad enough to those who 
live on nothing but the renown of riches, but 
to have execrable vices, damning sins, and 
monstrous cruelties becoming incarnate, taking 
well-known forms and importunely claiming 
holy men, with bishops on their list of friends, 
and Laffite, Leoville, and Margot clarets in 
their cellars, as their fathers, must be hell 
itself. If at one time Dr. Cumberladsre dreamed 
of raising this place of torment for Mr. Robert 
Warner, he was heartily sorry for it now when 
he saw that it had become inevitable. 

The interview between Dr. Cumberlad^e and 
Mr. R. W. Warner was conducted with the 
utmost decorum. The only one of the two 
men who suffered any pain from the disclosure 
which had to be made, and the associations 
which surrounded it, was the philanthropist. 

" The boy never knew his mother, had 
never heard of his father, his mother believes 
the boy to be dead ; and the only persons with 
any knowledge of this business are yourself, 

VOL. II. c 



34 MASSTON. 

your wife, and myself. Is that so ? " inquired 
Warner with great deliberation. 

" That is so." 

" Do you intend to keep the mother in that 
ignorance ? " 

" Most certainly, we have made her life 
happy. She has no bitter recollections, not a 
shadow of regret ever passes over her pure 
mind. She has grown into a refined and 
beautiful woman, and rules the Hermitage like 
one born to the right and manner of ruling." 

Strange to tell — Warner, who had grown 
into a refined and handsome man, who ruled the 
Oxford Works like one born to the riant and 
manner of ruling, who had, moreover, married 
a most lovely woman, of high birth and great 
fortune, and belonged to the finest outward 
show of things the world could boast, did not 
believe what Dr. Cumberladge said of Sarah 
Armstrong. He had learnt from the teachers 
who had brought about his complete regenera- 
tion that it was going against God to say of one 



MASSTON. 35 

who had conducted herself as had Sarah Arm- 
strong, that she had grown into a refined and 
beautiful woman. It was an insult to Provi- 
dence ; and as for her being happy, he did not 
believe that either; while it was an evidence as 
plain as it was painful that, having no bitter 
recollections or shadows of regret, she must be 
still in the Qfall of bitterness and the bonds of 
iniquity. If Mr. Warner had not possessed the 
honour of an acquaintance with the head of the 
church, and the privilege of a daily attendance 
at the throne of grace, he could never have been 
able to form that clear and decided opinion. 

Warner did not convey to Cumberladge the 
thoughts which passed through his mind. 

" In spite of the boy's running away, Dr. 
Cumberladge, I shall continue the yearly allow- 
ance as before. I wish you good morning." 

This was a little bitter, but the Doctor bore 
it like a gentleman who never forgets to be 
polite to his inferiors. 

As for Dame Cumberladge, she never for- 



36 MASSTON. 

gave herself for what to her appeared palpable 
deceit, in keeping Sarah in the belief that her 
boy was dead. And the deceit was not the 
half of the wron^ done ; for she had wronged 
a mother of her right ; and a woman who had 
bought at great price a thing of great joy. As 
Sarah's boy grew in grace and favour beneath 
Dame Cumberladge's care, and she saw him 
rival her own son in capacity and good looks, 
she wavered still more in her promise to keep 
Sarah in the dark. But the Doctor held her to 
it peremptorily. When the flight took place 
and the boy no more returned, her grief and 
sorrow increased from day to day, and hastened 
her removal from Masston to the Hermitage. 
In the presence of Sarah the stately dame re- 
covered her natural disposition, and found less 
difficulty in keeping a secret the revelation of 
which could only have brought a flood of un- 
necessary and barren sorrow. Why darken 
the happiness of a new day with useless pain ? 
Besides, if the Cumberladges had then re- 



MASSTON. 2)7 

lated all they knew to Sarah, Sarah would 
on the instant have fled in search of her son, 
and one great loss would have been followed 
by another. 

The daily anguish for many days together at 
the first after taking up their abode at the farm, 
shared between the Doctor and his wife, sprang 
from the certainty that Dolly or Shirley Cum- 
berladge also, who had been the inseparable 
companions of the runaway, would so speak 
to Sarah of the delinquent and the misery he 
had caused as to awaken inquiry or rouse sus- 
picion, or give place to awkward questioning. 

All this did the Doctor and his good and 
loving wife endure. 

But not more steadily did the grass continue 
its growth, and all the silent processes of nature 
their operations, without any sign of giving 
way to the weakness of explanatory speech, 
than did the young people grow out of all re- 
collection of him who had gone away from 
them for ever. 



38 MASSTON. 

It may not be quite true that Dolly had any 
secret cause to forget her foster brother equal 
to the cause which made Shirley try to forget 
him. Be that as it may, no bird ever flew from 
the nest and became forgotten sooner and more 
completely than did Hugh Armitage, whose 
name was never more heard at the Hermitage 
farm ; and if his image brought aught of 
remembrance to any it was kept in silence. 

Of course nothing more was ever heard of 
that name at the Oxford Works. Hearing, 
however, is not the only avenue of knowledge 
open to mortals, as Robert Welsher Warner 
well knew. When at certain hours of the day 
the heavy mortgages on the Oxford Works 
pressed heavily on his soul, he would, by some 
unaccountable means, get reminded of another 
kind of mortgage, payment of which might be 
demanded at an unexpected and unprepared, 
for time, and that not in money but in spasms, 
not in any coin of the realm but in fear and 
torment. 



MASSTON. 59 

Tormented as Warner was by many fears, 
it must not be supposed that he was destitute 
of those private sources of pleasure which give 
even to money-borrowing men specific reasons 
for continuing to exist. Warner could not 
only be generous, he used his generosity as a 
means to an end — that end being the pleasure 
of Mr. R. W. Warner. He had longf asfo dis- 
covered that he could do no good thing without 
feeling proud of it, and becoming fully con- 
scious that it was a good thing ; just as if the 
gods, knowing well the motive of his gifts, 
hurled them back in his face when he came 
to offer them. Warner would have liked the 
heavenly powers to give him their countenance, 
but as they refused to do so in a strictly private 
and confidential manner, he soon managed to 
live without it, albeit he was never indifferent 
to the slight. 

Some days after the meeting of Blanchard 
and Sarah Armstrong in the Hermitage chapel, 
Warner, as was his wont, went one morning to 



40 MASSTON. 

pass a little time in the designer's room. He 
was as often delighted with Blanchard's sayings 
as with his designs, and the real laughter in 
which Warner sometimes indulged was a pleas- 
ing intoxication when evoked by Paul. Some- 
thing approaching to friendship had sprung up 
cetween these two men. Not the friendship 
which is presided over by unseen love, but the 
trappings and signs of it ; or, at most, a well- 
executed counterfeit. And it is true that in 
Masston you could even get sovereigns, so like 
real sovereigns to look at, that they passed for 
sovereigns for long periods together, and were 
only found to be base imitations by the merest 
accident. Warner's friendship was, after all, 
only Masston produce. 

Blanchard found perfect freedom in the ser- 
vice of the master of the Oxford Works ; and 
the master of the Oxford W T orks reaped great 
profit and some renown by the labours of the 
inventor, who, sad to tell, had a soul so proud 
that he could not even dream of advantage, 



MASSTON. 4 1 

any more than a field of corn could dream of 
flour-mills. Blanchard was pleased with the 
scope allowed him — he asked for nothing that 
he did not obtain— expensive tools, costly- 
material, and elaborate experiments, he could 
always command. The two thus became of 
mutual use to each other, and each was satis- 
fied with what came in the way of result. 

On the morning in question, Warner dis- 
covered a moodiness amounting to taciturn 
sullenness in Blanchard, which alarmed him. 
Some discontent had seized the choose which 
for him laid golden eggs, and he set himself 
to discover the inventor's mind. This required 
no small tact. 

" You are not well to-day, Mr. Blanchard ! " 
" Yes, I am," was the tart reply; but, recover- 
ing himself, and relinquishing his work, at 
which he continued to gaze vacantly, he pro- 
ceeded : " But if by 'well' you mean bright as 
light, and light as air, my blood liquid bliss, 
and life itself compelling wonder mingled with 



42 MASSTON. 

rejoicing, then, sir, I am not well, I am indeed 
very sick. But you, who were never sick as I 
am, cannot know what I mean." 

" Assuredly," said Warner, in his most 
natural tone, " I know that we all have our 
dark days, and we can no more help it, or 
make them bright, than we can make the sun 
rise earlier than its appointed hour." 

" We can help it ! " exclaimed Paul with en- 
ergy, his brow becoming knitted as if clutched 
with iron fingers. For, being the least selfish 
of men, living, when at his best, in a world of 
bright and happy beings, he dared say what 
was uppermost in his mind, regardless of its 
effect on persons, though he must have known 
that at times his words could not but produce 
much pain, and not unfrequently great aggra- 
vation. " It is my own fault," he continued, 
" that this day finds me in the blackness of 
despair, when I might have been in possession 
of a shining hope. I have fitted to myself the 
garments of vileness, I have been content to 



MASSTON. 43 

wear other people's rags, because I could not 
otherwise disguise myself, when disguise for 
them was necessary, as I also thought it was 
for me. And now, by God ! the vile garments 
won't come off; the rags I have worn these 
years have become part of myself. No one 
knows me. One," — here Paul's voice, from 
being deep and harmonious, became broken up 
into discords. "One — I would owe the world 

O 

if she could know me as well as I know her — 
cannot come to any adequate knowledge of 
what I am for the apparel I wear." 

This was the kind of outburst which now and 
then made Warner laugh, but on this occasion 
there was something in Paul's manner which 
was provocative of quite other emotion. At 
first Warner thought the inventor to be drunk, 
but seeing him standing quite firmly, his eye 
fixed on some unseen thing, with his cleft chin 
grasped in the long delicate fingers, which 
pressed themselves even on Warner's attention, 
he said to Paul, rather in a business-like tone — 



44 MASSTON. 

" I should like to know your meaning." 

" I mean," was the reply, " that I have 
changed my being for another than God gave 
me, and have only just discovered what a thrice 
accursed fool I am for the trick I have played 
on myself. I never believed in your water 
regenerations by face sprinkling, but when you 
come to baptism by brandy, you won't be long 
in arriving at conversion to the belief that a 
man can be born again. Even my face is 
changed, and that is going to change my heart 
into an abode of detestable images, made of 
the bad stuff of my own evil deeds." 

" All this is very dark to me," said Warner 
with a patient smile. 

" Of course it is," said the other with moody 
curtness ; " but," he continued, " suppose I were 
to hold up a glass before your face, in which 
you could see yourself changed into an object 
of pity and compassion, or into a thing to be 
feared first and despised afterwards, what 
would be your feelings, and what would you 



MASSTON. 45 

say ? You would say just the very things that 
I have now said." 

Warner became more than interested, and 
said so. 

Blanchard went on, "Had I known that I 
should ever meet a woman, such as I met only 
a few days ago, with the chance of making her 
my wife, I would have been a different man to 
what I am ; I would have lived a different life. 
But I dare not think of her — and yet I see her 
all day, and all night ; and she sees me, and 
there's a look in her face that beckons me on, 
which is speedily followed by another which 
warns me off. Had you not come in just now, 
I should have gone to drown my thoughts ; 
but not at the Cu'lwell, no thoughts will ever 
come to me again that will be fit for any other 
fate, and when these are all drowned, I suppose 
I shall drown myself." 

Warner's generosity was on the alert. He 
felt for Blanchard, and what is more, he felt 
that no ordinary means must be used to recover 



46 MASSTON. 

him of the distemper in which he then was. 
He could have given a whole handful of papers 
full of printed directions, and a new edition of 
the poems of King David, and even still more 
precious things, together with glorious old 
letters written in seraphic fire, or in floods of 
tears shed by the Christ himself, or said to 
be so ; and yet these would have had as much 
effect in Paul's case, as would a piece of 
adhesive plaster in mending a fractured tea- 
kettle needed for boiling water. So the latest 
sample of the good Samaritan went and brought 
some drawings of a machine that could do 
everything but think, and the description of a 
new process for putting a film of copper on to 
a solid piece of iron. With these the man of 
trade and commercial religion thought to heal 
the wounds of love, and hush the wailings of 
one in immortal pain. Afterwards Warner 
would carry Blanchard to Baston Hall to pass 
the evening, under pretence of needing his 
services there in some matters of taste. For 



MASSTON. 47 

Warner had great trust in Edith's power to 
beguile Blanchard from ill courses even into 
the way of a new life ; the life, on the pleasures 
of which she could discourse so well. Edith 
also would be pleased in having something 
good to do, and an opportunity of exercising 
her ministering powers. 

That evening did Mr. Warner's open car- 
riage convey the proprietor of the Oxford 
Works and Paul Blanchard though the streets 
of Masston to Baston Hall ; and no one 
noticed it with so kindling an eye as did Mr. 
James Reklaw. 



( 48 ) 



CHAPTER III. 

" Marinero soy de amor, 

Y en su pielago profundo, 
Navego, sin esperanza 

De llegar a puerto alguno. 
Siguiendo voy a una estrella, 

Que desde lejos discubro, 
Mas bella y resplandeciente 

Que quantos vio Palinuro. 
O clara y luciente estrella 

En cuya lumbre me apuro ! 
Al punto que te me encubras, 

Sera de mi muerte el punto." 

A sailor I on love's deep sea, 

My hopes of haven few, 
My only guide a single star, 

Whose distant light I view — 
A star more bright, a finer light 

Than Palinurus knew. 
O clear and steadfast shining star ! 

Whose light to me is breath ; 
If thou that light should hide from me, 

The darkness will be death. 

— Don Quixote, xliii 



Blanch ard was well received at the Hall. By 
Edith because she hoped to obtain some notice 



MASSTON. 49 

of the progress made by Jeavons with the 
lower working people in providing them with 
good food. By Julia because he was the 
architect of a remarkable bird's cage as big 
as a church, wherein she kept doves, canaries, 
sparrows, finches, starlings, wrens, tom-tits, 
yellow hammers, and parrots. Each bird had 
his own dwelling and the right to a spacious 
hall with a floor of clover, and a roof of netting. 
Julia, who had never seen Paul, ceased not to 
make inquiries about him ever since Mr. 
Warner had told her that the constructer of her 
aviary was the designer to the Oxford Works. 
His reception was therefore cordial, and his 
own manners and singular intelligence procured 
him a consideration from the ladies that would 
have been deemed flattery by a man of idleness 
and fashion. 

" Let me build a cathedral for the birds," 
Paul had said when Warner communicated to 
him his wishes ; " and I will so build it that the 
lady may train them to do anything she likes, 

VOL. II. D 



50 MASSTON. 

and can have a cage in it for herself, from 
which she may study the characters of her pets, 
and treat them as they require. 

Warner, who was proud of the conceit, and 
of the uses to which a thing so common, being 
made really great, could be put, gave his con- 
sent. So Paul made a sketch of the bird 
palace, and drew out a scheme for a colony of 
birds that filled the heart of Warner with pride, 
and the heart of Edith with a mild pleasure 
as she thought of the sister, whom she loved, 
finding an occupation that should amuse her 
and occupy her time in a way that was at 
least innocent if it was not very useful. 

Warner contributed some ideas to this fairy 
temple, so did Mr. Gadso ; even Lord Lime- 
thorpe, who knew almost everything, had 
something to say about the most wonderful 
bird-house ever heard of. It was built of fine 
wire with many ornaments of gold and silver, 
mixed with vermilion and blue bosses ; and it 
approached more to a Chinese than a Gothic 



MASSTON. 5 1 

style. It stood in the midst of a clump of 
trees close to the Hall, and was sheltered be- 
neath the green islands, flung in the air from 
the arms of a majestic cedar. When all was 
completed and the birds were installed, the 
paradise was formally presented to Julia on 
her twenty-first birthday. 

Both Mr. Warner and Edith looked forward 
to the raptures with which they expected Julia 
would receive her magnificent eift. 

But instead of bounding into the air like a 
happy chamois, or expressing her surprise and 
gladness in any original way, she kindly and 
quietly turned to her sister and said — 

" Edith, I will have no more birthdays all 
my life — now remember ; " and she threw her 
arms round her sister as if to bind her to a 
promise. 

Mr. Warner was a little disappointed that 
she took no notice of him. But truth to tell, 
Julia had a slight suspicion that this great 
industrial exhibition of singers and layers of 



52 MASSTON. 

eggs, was provided for her as a trap to lure 
her into habits of usefulness. She grew out 
of this suspicion in time, and showed some 
gratitude to Mr. Warner. 

Paul had really forgotten all about his mag- 
nificent bird's cage ; but Julia brought it to his 
recollection, and after dinner she invited him 
to see her world of feathered creatures and 
how she ruled it. 

Paul was intensely delighted. The gloom 
of the morning; had gone from his thoughts, 
and the touch of vanity, which for a moment 
had polluted his mind, had vanished ; for the 
company of Julia Ascham and her pets in- 
spired him with a happy humour which found 
vent in praise and unqualified admiration. 

Mr. Warner might well be pleased with 
himself for the service he had done Paul in 
carrying him to pass the evening at Baston 
Hall. 

" Mr. Blanchard," he said as he and Edith 
came up to the bird's cage, " I am delighted 



MASSTON. 53 

to see you yourself again. Let us have no 
more dull thoughts and useless regrets ; the 
past like the future is in the hand of God 
alone." 

Paul, on whom anything of the flavour of a 
sermon acted like hot acid on the skin, gave 
Warner a look that, however well it accorded 
with Miss Julia's own feelings, somewhat 
startled and surprised her ; for it ill accorded 
with the estimate she had formed of Paul's 
gentle character. 

" Dull ? " she exclaimed in a charming voice. 
" Surely Mr. Blanchard can never be dull." 

" People," answered Paul in deep baritone, 
" are always dull, I should think, when occupied 
with nothing but themselves. It is true that 
this morning Mr. Warner found me in the 
midst of gloomy thoughts, for I could think of 
nothing but a waste of years, and myself as a 
part of a heap of waste." 

Edith's discerning ear detected what she 
thought a fatalist's resignation in Paul's voice 



54 MASSTON. 

and words. Julia's ear was differently con- 
structed, and in her gaiety and naturalness she 
exclaimed — 

" Why, Mr. Blanchard must be in love ! " 

" Julia ! " 

Julia took no heed, but turning as if she 
were deaf to a highly intelligent starling, who 
was standing on a round piece of turf sus- 
pended from a bracket in the middle aisle of 
the temple, she said to him — 

" Jack, why have you given up singing ? 
You don't even talk now ; and yet your beak 
is of gold, your breast spangled with silver 
stars, you have all the good things of this life, 
you have no fear of the naughty place, you 
are delightfully clothed, and above all these, I 
love you, and yet these two days you have 
been as dull, why — really as dull as Mr. Sweet- 
apple. Are you in love ? " 

Here a gray parrot, with its indented mouth 
open at the corners, exclaimed in the voice of 
a duck — 



MASSTON. 55 

"O Julia!" 

At which there was a little comical laughter 
from birds as well as men. 

They strolled away, and Mr. Warner took 
occasion to tell his wife that Blanchard was no 
doubt in love, for he had given him so to 
understand, and that Julia was very quick in 
these matters. 

Edith was pleased, and suggested that, now 
Mr. Blanchard seemed in better spirits, Mr. 
Warner might interest himself in his fortunes ; 
perhaps matters of a purely worldly and 
prudent nature stood in the way of marriage. 

" I think Mr. Warner has something to say 
to you, Mr. Blanchard," said Edith in her 
winning manner, as she approached Paul, who 
was strolling in measured steps by the side of 
Julia — a smile on his face, and his hands 
behind his back, like one who gives away 
happy thoughts — or, like one who bestows 
choice nuts on friends, cracking them, removing 
the bitter skin from the kernels, and offering 



56 MASSTON. 

them as delicious food. So Paul joined Mr. 
Warner, and the ladies returned to the church 
of the birds. 

" Get married, Mr. Blanchard," said Warner. 
" It will be the making of you." 

Paul, who was by no means disconcerted 
although a little surprised at the friendly advice 
and the mellow tone in which it was delivered, 
replied with much simplicity as of one who 
had no doubt — 

" If I ever marry, it will be with one who 
is as likely to take me for a husband, as it is 
likely I shall square the circle — or the squirrel 
in yonder cage discover perpetual motion." 

" May I know who the lady is, or what she 
is like ? If there be any obstacle that I can 
remove, I shall help you with pleasure." 

" Who she is is almost as difficult to tell as 
what she is like ; nor does that concern me. I 
don't know who painted the lady who is 
dancing in your dining-room." 

"Oh, that was Gainsborough." 



MASSTON. 57 

" It does not matter," replied Paul drily, 
" although, now I know that a man called 
Gainsborough fixed, for the world's gaze, in 
colours so fair, a being so bright and sweet, I 
shall want to see some more of Gainsborough's 
works." 

" That you shall," returned Warner with 
decision. " Is the future Mrs. Blanchard like 
the picture ? " 

" No ; she is more like an apple blossom, 
to eyes whose only light has been the glare of 
fire, or like a pillow of hops to a fevered man's 
brain. She is like a white kitten. She is like 
a bird whose song is softer than its feathers. 
She is like a bee, or like the flowers from 
which the bees suck their honey ; or, if she be 
not like these, she makes you think of these as 
you hear her speak, and look at her form. 
She is like no other woman in the world, and 
yet there is no woman with any delight in her, 
who is not something like her." 

Warner enjoyed Paul's rhapsody, and lis- 



58 MASSTON. 

tened to it with almost hearty laughter, or what 
sounded like laughter, being rather of the 
quality of a cheer, perhaps, than of sympathy, 
and a thing which rather becomes a patron, 
than it distinguishes a friend. And he told 
him to gird up his loins and try his fortune like 
one determined to win, for win he must. 

" She is, I think," answered Paul in a half 
note voice, " far too happy to think of marrying 
any one." 

" People do not marry to be happy," said 
Warner ; " they as often marry for pride. I 
believe you could make any woman proud in 
becoming her husband. How did you meet 
her?" 

" I made the acquaintance of Dr. Cumber- 
ladge, through my friend Benjamin Jeavons, 
who asked me to look at the Chapel of the 
Hermitage Farm. It is a fine old relic of the 
past. It only wants a new floor, a door, and 
a few unimportant repairs to make it " 

Warner had already divined the woman 



MASSTON. 59 

whom Blanchard loved. He had stopped in 
his walk to examine the hinge of a gate, which 
he thought was broken, when Paul also stopped 
in his answer. There was no broken hinge to 
look at. Mr. Warner was looking at quite 
another matter — invisible to human sight. At 
last he came on to where Paul was standing, 
having revolved in his practised mind a very 
weighty matter ; which may thus be shaped : 
" Blanchard is in love with Sarah Armstrong. 
She may be induced to marry ; if that can be 
brought to pass, one great load is removed 
from my soul, and another is prevented from 
being formed. That her boy will, one of these 
days, return to Masston, I have no doubt ; it is 
as certain as Quarter Day. Blanchard married 
to Sarah Armstrong means no risk of former 
things coming to annoy, perplex, and worry 
Robert W. Warner." 

" Mr. Blanchard," he said aloud, with some 
cheerfulness, mixed with a slight trembling in 
the sound, "you must marry. Instead of living 



60 MASSTON. 

from hand to mouth — your days coming and 
going, and bringing no permanent pleasure, 
you ought to have a home, and a wife. Let me 
persuade you to be in earnest. I shall interest 
myself in your suit. I shall request to be 
allowed to make a settlement. You have 
served me nobly and well. I wish to make a 
return." 

Blanchard, who observed nothing unusual in 
the tone of the master of the Oxford Works, or 
in the effusiveness of his words, laughed and 
declared that he neither wanted pushing on nor 
bribing in the matter of the white kitten. 

" I think I will leave you now, sir," said Paul, 
and was preparing to go when the ladies came 
up. 

"Are you going, Mr. Blanchard ? Pray remain 
to prayers," said Edith, quite good-naturedly, 
and as if she were offering to the man of ideas 
a supreme opportunity of enjoying himself. 

" Thank you, I wish you all a very good 
night," and then, turning especially to Julia, 



MASSTON. 6 1 

Paul said, " Mr. Warner knows another bird's 
cage where sin^s the one bird that ever sang 
to me." Julia was much pleased. Edith was 
inclined to be offended ; Warner was a little 
surprised and on his guard, as Paul left them 
to talk over his eccentricities and betook him- 
self to Summer Lane. 

It happened some few weeks after the visit 
to Baston Hall that one morning, Mr. Warner 
casually meeting Paul Blanchard, said, — 

" Pray, Mr. Blanchard, how may be the white 
kitten?" 

And Paul answered with more fire in his 
brown eyes than Warner had ever seen there, 
" The white kitten will one day, tell Miss Julia, 
skip on my hearth." 

At which Warner's face broke into a smile 
it had not worn for many years. But this, like 
all other happiness that fell on him, was purely 
selfish. 



( 62 ) 



CHAPTER IV. 

"Our little systems have their day." — In Memoriani. 
" His worship ever was a Churchman true, 
And held in scorn the Methodistic crew." 

— Crabbe. 

Edith Warner had, as we know, proposed 
to herself in marrying the master of the Oxford 
Works to become possessed of a power which 
should enable her to carry out with activity 
her schemes for bettering this weary planet, or 
at least that portion of it with which she was 
immediately concerned. When she went to 
the theatre with Julia she had been as much 
impressed by the aspect of the audience as by 
the force of the actor who compelled their 
thoughts or rather their feelings, for there were 
too many who had never found time or oc- 
casion for thought. She saw that many kinds 
of men and women whose pursuits and persua- 



MASSTON. 63 

sions were utterly at variance, were brought 
into one and the same frame of attention and 
emotion by means of words spoken and ges- 
tures used in a certain fashion by one man, who 
in her estimation was a soldier of Satan. And 
the one thought which occupied her with re- 
gard to this man was, that if he had been 
trained for holy work he might have been a 
worthy coadjutor of Mr. Gadso. From think- 
ing this, she went on to desire that some force 
might be employed to bring the many minds 
of Masston permanently into one reverent 
attitude regarding heavenly things, as she saw 
them brought together for the space of a few 
hours to gape and gaze at things of which the 
existence was fictitious and air-drawn. The 
project of uniting the various professors of 
differing sects or creeds in one mighty effort 
had lonof had some kind of unformed exist- 
ence in her mind, and it now took shape. The 
grandeur of the idea took possession of her. 
She said nothing at the time, but the next 



64 MASSTON. 

evening went to Mr. Gadso, asking him to 
come and see her at the Hall with Mr. Sweet- 
apple. 

When Julia saw these two priests arrive at 
the door, she said, with great deliberation, that 
she must go and attend to her birds ; and her 
surprise when Edith, with some alacrity, pro- 
posed that they should all accompany her, was 
not altogether joyful. She led the way in 
silence and in a discontent which was evident 
enough to Edith, by the fact of her snatching 
up to cover her head a distorted sun bonnet 
for which it was well known that Dodo the gray 
parrot had a strong hatred not unmixed with 
terror. 

Edith, on their way to the great cage, opened 
at once upon the two clergymen with the ques- 
tion that was a^itatin^ her mind. 

" Why should not Church people and Dis- 
senters — I do not mean Jews or Unitarians — 
you have taught me rightly to divide them — 
be united together in one army, to meet the 



MASSTON. 65 

common foe, all animated with one burning, 
aspiring spirit, with no rivalries" 

" That weaken, or splits that dishonour," said 
Mr. Sweetapple, wrapping up the sentence with 
as much neatness as if it had been a skein of 
silk, and he a mercer's shopman. 

" This is no new idea— of course, I received 
your note," said Mr. Gadso, addressing Edith 
in a professional, endearing tone, " only it has 
failed — perhaps from being attempted on too 
grand and p-orsreous a scale. But the ele- 
ments which divided first the Church at 
Jerusalem, and, subsequently, the Churches 
of the West, no longer exist with us. The 
Jew has long since entered upon his wan- 
dering term." 

" I asked you to come," said Edith, whose 
earnestness sometimes landed her near to 
being rude, " in order to get my own thoughts 
upon this matter more clearly defined : I mean 
on details. I have spoken, but in a very slight 
way, of something of this kind to Lord Lime- 

VOL. II. E 



66 MASSTON. 

thorpe, who seemed struck with the plan, and 
at once suggested that you should be con- 
sulted. If you think the plan is possible, I 
will see Lord Limethorpe at once, and we can, 
I think, together call on the principal dissent- 
ing ministers, and arrange a meeting at my 
husband's works. It was his idea that if such 
a meeting could take place in the midst of 
the large population we design to benefit, 
a strong and lasting impression might be 
made." 

"Of course," answered Mr. Gadso, bowing, 
and glancing inquiringly at the sky. 

By this time they had reached the palace of 
the birds, where they found Julia, who had 
gone before them, scolding the grey parrot 
into a caressing attitude. 

" What a charming picture ! " said Mr. 
Gadso. 

" Yes," responded Edith quickly ; " does not 
this point directly to our work ? Here is the 
type of that unity among those whose differ- 



MASSTON. 6? 

ences are only in speech and appearance, which 
we should aim at." 

On which Mr. Sweetapple remarked to Julia, 
with careful selection of phrases, " How good 
and pleasant a thing it is to see such unity 
among creatures so different. But that, of 
course, is due to the sweetness of your 
sway." 

"As for their being different," said Julia, 
" they are all birds, and the ' sweetness of my 
sway,' " she added, with a hint of gentle mimi- 
cry, " might not keep peace among them unless 
each kind had its own house." 

" But for your guidance, Julia," said Edith, 
looking at Mr. Gadso, " they would never be 
able to talk." 

" Very few of them can talk," was the reply, 
" and they only repeat what I teach them." 

" Af karse," observed the parrot, in a voice 
strangely like one that had already made the 
same remark. 

" Julia," said Edith, with some haste, " could 



68 MASSTON. 

you keep all these birds so successfully unless 
you had them all under one roof ? and do you 
not think that they like this companionship ? " 

" And might not the fellowship which is so 
good for birds, be good, in a higher sense, for 
Christians ? " said Mr. Gadso, with a winning 
smile, which required a trained intellect, or a 
very natural lady, to resist. 

" I think," said Julia, with more care for 
what she was saying than was usual with her, 
" that if these birds, who seem to be so happy, 
and, also, certainly give me much pleasure, had 
never been caged, they might have found more 
happiness after their own fashion. I am certain 
if their cage were now broken up, and the birds 
left to themselves, each one would cling to its 
own bit of wire-work, and die there of help- 
lessness." 

" That is not our point," said Mr. Gadso, 
who could not be at the pains to discover 
Julia's meaning. " We are speaking of the 
happy union in which the birds are now living, 



MASSTON. 69 

and this is precisely what your sister wishes for 
our fellow- Christians." 

" I think," replied Julia, looking up at the 
starling-, who held his head on one side, "that 
I know more of birds than of Christians." 

Upon which Mr. Gadso laughed a laugh of 
gentle triumph, the meaning of which was 
readily caught. Edith and Mr. Gadso now 
stood apart, while the younger priest glided 
nearer to Julia, and said with an alluring 
smile — 

" These birds are very happy." 

Then, moved by a design to share in Julia's 
pastime, he offered a condescending finger to 
the grey parrot, who eyed him sideways with 
a crafty look, and, with great deliberation, took 
revenge for the affront of Julia's sun-bonnet 
by snapping the finger in his beak. 

Mr. Sweetapple, who was even more terri- 
fied than hurt, drew back. The parrot laughed, 
and Julia, raising herself admonishingly on her 
toes, said — 



JO MASSTON. 

" For shame, Dodo." 

To which the parrot replied, in a clerical 
voice — 

" Quite so." 

"You are a naughty bird," continued Julia, 
who well knew the strength of her favourite's 
beak. " How dare you bite people who wish 
to make friends with you ? " 

For answer, Dodo flattened his feathers, 
raised himself to his full height, and danced 
up and down, without moving his feet, in 
wicked glee. 

" I hope you are not hurt," said Julia to the 
clergyman. 

" Oh dear no," said Mr. Sweetapple, flatten- 
ing each vowel as it passed through his teeth, 
and feeling perhaps a little shaken as to the 
aptness of some of Mr. Gadso's similes. 

That day Edith carried out her project of 
visiting Lord Limethorpe, who was easily 
charmed into compliance with the spirited 
undertaking which she proposed. Accordingly, 



MASSTON. 7 I 

on the morrow the Lady of Baston and the 
Lord of Limethorpe raised the standard of 
religion, and went forth to beat up recruits 
for the army which they proposed to assemble. 

" There can be no doubt," observed the 
ancient gentleman, as they travelled to the 
town in a capacious carriage, " that you are 
right in omitting Unitarians from this scheme, 
and I almost think you should leave out the 
Quakers." 

Edith, whose toleration went a little further 
than Lord Limethorpe's, said that she had 
already made the acquaintance of a distin- 
guished Friend, who had voluntered at once to 
join in their project. To which Lord Lime- 
thorpe, with a tinge of annoyance, answered — 

" Oh, very well." 

Little more was said until they reached the 
house of the Rev. Camel Bustler, an Indepen- 
dent minister, to whom some credit must be 
given for living among the people to whom he 
preached. Mr. Bustler received his visitors 



72 MASSTON. 

with what can be best described as a holy 
insolence — a blow is none the less a blow 
struck with a bishop's crook than with a 
bludeeon — which £ave some offence to Lord 
Limethorpe, and but for Edith's tact and 
earnestness, it is possible that her colleague 
might have thrown up his commission. Lord 
Limethorpe had frequently lectured others in 
the spirit, though not in the manner, of the 
lecture now addressed to him by Mr. Bustler, 
and this was no doubt the cause of his irrita- 
tion. Mr. Bustler was ready to fall into their 
plans, but reminded them that if any hearty 
co-operation was to exist between himself and 
the members of the Establishment, they must 
meet on an equal footing. 

Edith, not knowing on what ticklish ground 
she stood, explained that this was precisely 
what she had in view. Had her knowledge of 
Christian churches been greater, her enthusiasm 
would have been less. Lord Limethorpe only 
stared grimly at the ugly portrait of a man 



MASSTON. 73 

remarkable for nothing- but a very wide mouth, 
which hung over the fire-place. When at last 
the interview was over, during which all re- 
mained standing, the minister dismissed them 
with a somewhat familiar blessing. 

As they went on their way, Lord Lime- 
thorpe said to Edith — 

" A vulgar fellow that ; don't you think so ? " 

" Consider," said Edith, " the people among 
whom he lives, and to whom he devotes him- 
self." 

" I hope," returned her companion drily, 
" that we may find a little more gentleness in 
the next man we visit." 

" He," said Edith, consulting her tablets, " is 
a Wesleyan, the Rev. Newton Snape, and 
I think we are close to his door." 

In effect, the carriage stopped at this 
moment, in front of a modest, or what was 
made to look like a modest house, whose 
whitened step leading to the black painted 
door, which stood between two windows, hunqr 



74 MASSTON. 

with fine muslin, gave to it a widowed expres- 
sion of front. The door was opened by Mrs. 
Snape, who was apparelled in the same fashion 
as her dwelling, and she greeted the expected 
visitors with much cordiality. Mr. Snape, to 
whom they were presently introduced, was a 
man with whom preaching evidently agreed, 
and he looked as if he had never been guilty 
of a single act of backsliding, which he did not 
fail to remember in his acts of daily thanks- 
giving. 

The meeting- was much more agreeable 
than that with Mr. Bustler, but Lord Lime- 
thorpe was greatly exercised in trying to un- 
riddle the mystery of Mr. Snape's content. 
The minister's talk was unassuming and 
practical, like the tray of cake and wine 
which Mrs. Snape, with primitive courtesy, 
brought in. 

Lord Limethorpe, with profound politeness, 
assured Mrs. Snape that he never drank wine 
before dinner. 



MASSTON. 75 

"Really," answered the gentle mother in 
Israel, " we never drink wine at all at dinner ; 
this is cowslip, will you not partake ? " 

Lord Limethorpe, with fresh expressions of 
gratitude, took the small glass, directed the 
conversation to Mr. Snape's labours, and, in a 
moment of abstraction, placed the wine on the 
mantlepiece, and left it there. 

When they reached the carriage again he 
said to Edith, in the tone of one who had seen 
a vision — 

" I shall continue to think that people have 
just as much right to leave the Church, and set 
up a new worship, as they have to make cowslip 
wine." And in that the noble lord was doubt- 
less expressing tolerance which would have 
satisfied Milton himself, but he was uncon- 
scious of it. 

Other visits followed which need not be 
described, and while Edith was rewarded 
for the fatigue of the day by a marked 
unanimity in the acceptance of her plans, 



j6 MASSTON. 

Lord Limethorpe was rewarded by the grati- 
tude of Edith. 

It should be stated that more than once the 
kind-hearted nobleman was strangely moved as 
he found himself during their visits for the first 
time in close contact with a force which much 
resembled satire, not the cold-hearted satire 
which withers or repels, but that soft and 
summer breath which has been said to pass the 
power of storms. One instance will suffice. 
They called on a man whom they found work- 
ing at his trade in his own house, who was, 
nevertheless, one of the leading preachers in 
Masston — but whose views were peculiar ; for 
he used to say that rather than take money for 
preaching he would pay something for the 
privilege, and after telling Lord Limethorpe 
that his lordship did not know what he was 
talking about, he commenced to quote the 
following lines from our great epic : — 

" The Great Architect 
Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge 
His secrets, to be scanned by them who ought 



r 
MASSTON. 77 

Rather admire ; or if they list to try 
Conjecture, He His fabric of the heavens 
Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move 
His laughter at their quaint opinions wide 
Hereafter. When they come to model heaven, 
And calculate the stars, how they will wield 
The mighty frame — how build, unbuild, contrive 
To save appearances — how gird the sphere 
With centric and eccentric scribbled o'er 
Cycle, and epicycle, orb in orb." 

Lord Limethorpe, who had never heard these 

lines before, and thought that the little man 

who had quoted them must be mad, conceived 

so great a dislike and disgust to the whole 

fabric of dissent and what he judges to be its 

Greatest crime, that he said to the eccentric 

preacher in an arrogant tone: " The man or 

the people, or the system, that can represent 

the Almighty as one capable of laughing at the 

ignorance of His own children, or as contrivine 

His works to contribute to His amusement at 

their expense, can only be bad, and do bad," 

and he left the house abruptly, leaving Edith 

to follow him. 

The little workman-preacher laughed most 



78 MASSTON. 

heartily, and Edith, who shook hands with 
him, was glad to get away. 

That evening Lord Limethorpe sat over his 
solitary wine thinking over the events of the 
day, and could compare the part he had played 
to nothing else than that of a low electioneer- 
ing agent. He rang the bell for prayers, which 
was answered by a troop of well-trained, hand- 
some servants, perfectly modest in their 
demeanour, and looking as if they were being 
trained for some saintly calling ; the good old 
lord was his own chaplain, and the last thought 
which occupied his reverent mind was one 
which did honour to his good-nature. Recall- 
ing the lines from Milton which the working- 
preacher had quoted in the morning, he went to 
sleep with the firm resolve of never doubting 
that God Almighty was a gentleman. 



( 79 ) 



CHAPTER V. 

" Good the more communicated the more abundant grows." 

— Paradise Lost. 

The larger and the lesser stars move in equal 
harmony. The wheel of a barrow which carries 
homely fruits and herbs to market, and the 
wheels of the gilt coach which conveys the 
Lord Mayor to the palace, obey the same laws; 
therefore it should cause us no surprise to hear 
that, while the plans of Edith for uniting the 
religious people of Masston to each other, and 
all to heaven, had met with great success, the 
less ambitious aims of Benjamin Jeavons to 
sweeten the earth for some of its most wretched 
children, were crowned with happy results. 

Edith, too, had her sublunary charities, as 
we have seen already, in the regulation of 
female labour at the Oxford Works. It was 



80 MASSTON. 

likewise through her influence that the wives 
of such workmen, who so willed it, received 
their husband's wages at two o'clock on Satur- 
day afternoons. On the very first Saturday 
afternoon after the visit of the Masses to the 
courts of Lear and Macbeth, introduced to their 
Majesties by Paul Blanchard and Benjamin 
Jeavons, the latter received at least fifty ladies 
at his provision shop, who were anxious to 
exchange their market money for such neces- 
saries of life as he undertook to supply. Nor 
did Jeavons close his store that night until a 
very late hour ; for not only had he to weigh 
out butter and sugar, count eggs, reach down 
bread, cut up bacon, and divide cheese, he had 
also to use much explanatory speech, in unfold- 
ing his method of business, and how he and his 
customers were to benefit thereby. The more 
simple and clear his statements, the more had 
he to enlarge in commentary. So accustomed 
had these people been to the taste of adulter- 
ated food, that it not only corrupted and de- 



MASSTON. 5 1 

based their tastes, it darkened their reasoning 
powers, and it required a multitude of words, 
many times repeated, to enable them to appre- 
hend the meaning and bearing of two or three 
words of weight. The plainness of Jeavons' 
shop, the singularity of his proceedings, the 
order in which things were kept, all struck 
upon the beholder's senses as something un- 
common and therefore suspicious. Everything 
purchased likewise had to be entered in a led- 
ger, and each buyer received a small memoran- 
dum book, in which was set down the amount 
of money laid out. Jeavons explained this 
proceeding as follows : — " If you buy the same 
amount of provisions next week, you will have 
paid for your admission to the theatre ; and if 
you go on buying for twenty-five weeks longer, 
each week to the same amount, I shall then 
have the pleasure of paying you back thirty 
shillings ; and if you go on in like manner to 
the end of the year, you will then receive a 
little more than three sovereigns. " 

VOL. II. F 



82 MASSTON. 

How some of the poor women laughed in 
derision, how others smiled with a dubious 
shake of the head, and some begged that he 
would take care and not hurt himself, for that 
the things they bought were cheaper and better 
than they had ever bought before, need not to be 
set down here. On the following Saturday the 
shop in Summer Lane could not contain the 
crowd which gathered there, larcre numbers 
had to wait outside ; all came with their market 
baskets, to carry away the things whose quality 
had carried their own good fame into many 
a household. It had even got bruited about 
that by buying their weekly provisions at Mr. 
Jeavons' shop they could pay their weekly 
rent ; a thing which looked like magic, for it 
was beyond all understanding. Good Mrs. 
Ruckles, who was one of the first customers, 
being a woman of quick and comprehensive 
charity, seeing how hard pressed Mr. Jeavons 
was for help, offered to serve out the potatoes. 

" Very well," was the reply, " but I must pay 



MASSTON. S3 

you for your labour ; if you can spare me three 
hours of your time, I will spare you a pound of 
the finest butter you ever tasted." 

' ■ But I don't want nothing ; let me do it for 
love ? " 

" You can do it for love, and the butter as 
well," said Jeavons, very busy with other ladies, 
his face keeping a serene but good-natured 
expression, which conveyed an idea of helpful- 
ness, truth, and honesty, mixed with a deter- 
mination that could not be trifled with. 

The famous stenographer, who had stolen 
the parson's sermon, was also on duty, doing 
the writing, that is, entering the things sold in 
one book, and the amount of money laid out in 
the memorandum book of the buyers. Tom 
would also be paid in kind for his labours. 
Thus, without their knowing it, some of the 
dreams of the reformers of society were being 
worked out in Jeavons' little shop, and more 
than one ancient practice, which the advance of 
civilisation has obliterated from the world, was 



84 MASSTON. 

restored in one of its neglected corners, to the 
great profit and blessing of many people who, 
up to this time, had lost all trace of happiness, 
and who never enjoyed one poor chance of an 
exchange of helpful sympathy with a single 
human being. 

The effect on Jeavons himself, was greater 
than any produced on his customers. The 
fountains of his heart, hitherto closed, or, at 
best, only occasionally set flowing, were broken 
up : his customers became his personal friends, 
their profits made profit for him ; — the love 
with which Mrs. Ruckles worked, mixed with 
Sarah Armstrong's butter, was not more sweet 
and fresh than the pure joy which welled up in 
Jeavons' soul, as he saw the steady progress of 
his labours, and out of the triumph he had won 
over imposture and lies, and the meanest form 
of thieving, there came into what had hitherto 
been a very practical life, a gleam of poetical 
feeling. 

Within the space of only a few months, he 



MASSTON. 85 

had to pull down his barns, and built greater, 
but without any thought of taking his ease : he 
was compelled to take more spacious premises, 
and he opened another and larger shop in the 
centre of the town, and there the crowds of 
consumers of bread and bacon still pressed in, 
for the simple reason that there they could pro- 
cure better food and more pleasant things than 
elsewhere, also more just measure and exact 
weight. 

" Why, Benjamin," said Dr. Cumberladge, as 
that kind-hearted, but now somewhat subdued, 
old gentleman entered the new premises one 
morning, "you will become a great man yet, 
you see." 

Jeavons, who well enough remembered what 
the Doctor had said on that subject some time 
before, replied that he did not think so. But 
that if the Doctor meant by a great man, a 
man happy and blessed with some content, then 
he was a great man already. 

" Benjamin," answered the Doctor with great 



86 MASSTON. 

deliberation, and with much feeling, " it is an 
awful thing to be happy." 

" Yes, and there is a kind of happiness which 
we are able to bear only at times, and at long 
intervals ; but, I think, sir, that many men are 
unhappy, because they undertake to do too 
much, or what is beyond their strength. I know 
it was so in my case. Then again, how much 
happiness is lost by not doing the very simple 
things which require to be done every day. 
We get proud ; and ill-content to do things 
that are as easy as winding up a clock ; and 
yet, if we did not wind up the clock, we should 
never know the time of day." 

" I dare say you are right, Benjamin," said 
the Doctor with a sigh. " After all, it is not the 
little or the much that occupies us : 

' Many things perplex, 
With motions, checks, and counterchecks.' 

I sometimes wish that it were time to die." 

"And 1" replied Benjamin, regardless of, or 
not heeding the sorrowful sighing of his friend, 



MASSTON. 8? 

'am only just beginning to discover what a 
fine thing it is to live." 

" How did you find out that riddle, my 
good friend ?" inquired Dr. Cumberladge, with a 
newly-awakened interest. 

" Just by opening my eyes," returned the 
other. "Within the past few weeks I have 
seen many human beings, who were fast bound 
in misery and iron, take heart and hope again, 
and the sight not only helped and refreshed 
— it remade me. 

' In that hour, 
From out my sullen heart a power 
Broke like the rainbow from the shower.'" 

" I see, Benjamin, that we have both been 
reading the new poet, which is a delightful 
compliment fate seldom allows her subjects to 
enjoy together. Do you believe in the ' hidden 
hope ' on which he discourses ? " 

" I believe in the yEolian harp," was the 
reply, " for I have heard it," remarked Benjamin 
with unaffected meekness. 



88 MASSTON. 

" 'And feel, although no tongue can prove 
That every cloud that spreads above 
And veileth love itself is love.' " 

" Is that so ? " inquired the Doctor recover- 
ing a little some of his wonted good-nature. 

" That is precisely so," answered Jeavons 
with earnestness, and continued — 

'" Forth into the fields I went, 
And Nature's living motion lent 
The pulse of hope to discontent.'" 

" This is very remarkable ! " exclaimed the 
Doctor cheerfully. "I came here for an account 
which lies between you and my friend Sarah 
Armstrong, and I find that, like her, you are 
much more eager to talk poetry than settle the 
price of butter. Pray, did you get this new book 
from her, or did she receive it from you ?" 

" I believe that she received it from my 
friend Paul Blanchard. He and I first read 
it together, and then he carried it to the Her- 
mitage. It is a very wonderful book. It has 
already, to my knowledge, turned several apes 
into men." 



MASSTON. 89 

" And to my knowledge," mused the Doctor, 
"it has made a most charming woman talk like 
an angel." 

" I wonder," inquired Jeavons, in a general 
way, as if it did not much matter, and who 
saw the Doctor relapse into a brown study, 
" I wonder if the poet knew that his words 
had transformed apes into men, and women 
into angels, it would make him very proud or 
very happy ? " 

" It would unquestionably make him both 
proud and happy," said Cumberladge, whose 
tone had changed a little from sadness into 
what might be called an echo of pleasure — as 
if before he had smelled nought but the mould 
in which grew the rose, and now, like another 
poet he was fond of, he smelled the rose 
above the mould. " I know it by experience. 
By the way, is not Sarah Armstrong a connec- 
tion of yours ? " inquired he, casting a sudden 
and searching glance at Jeavons. 

" A distant connection," was the reply, 



90 MASSTON. 

" Sarah's father and my father were cousins." 
There arose a slight blush on Jeavons' face, 
the cause and meaning of which the Doctor 
was anxious to know, and accordingly set 
himself to discover. 

" How, might I ask, is it that you never 
cared sufficiently for her as to make inquiries 
about her after you found that she had left her 
home so suddenly ? " 

" I never heard of it till many years after- 
wards ; and, when her mother died, it was then 
the old man, her father, told me of it, with 
much and bitter sorrow ; and that she had 
gone away because of some hard words they 
had given her, and that she had come to 
Masston. But I never heard of her. I did 
make many inquiries, but without any result, 
and never heard her name until you mentioned 
it some time ago, when you told me she was a 
friend of yours." 

" And not then," remarked the keen-eyed 
Doctor, " did you ask any questions." 



1 

MASSTON. 9 1 

Jeavons still felt a slight tinge of shame, and 
it expressed itself in his face. For, what the 
Doctor said was true, although the construc- 
tion which the saviour of Sarah Armstrong 
placed upon the expression on Benjamin's 
countenance was wrong. He might have 
told Dr. Cumberladge that he once loved 
Sarah Armstrong, and for her had suffered 
the first and only pangs of love, but that one, 
whom he despised, coming between him and 
her, and so ousting him from the lists, had 
chilled his heart towards her, and changed 
what might have ripened into the passion of 
love into a commonplace feeling of quite 
another kind ; but he was too proud for such 
confessions, and he remained silent. 

" Do you know nothing of her ? " demanded 
the Doctor. " Did her father never tell you 
explicitly why his daughter left her home ? " 

" Her father died in my arms," was the 
reply. " His last last words were ' Sary, 
Sary, come thee ways back again home.' And 



92 MASSTON. 

so he died. He never spoke after that, and I 
never heard anything of Sarah." 

" Would you not like to see her ? " 

" She would not care for me, and I suppose 
we should not know each other now," said 
Benjamin, a trifle disconcerted. 

The Doctor, convinced that Jeavons knew 
nothing of Sarah's story, resolved upon going 
a step farther, and said, " I never turned an 
ape into a man, Benjamin, but I believe that I 
saved Sarah Armstrong from a cruel death — 
and, let me tell you, that the only house in 
which she ever slept after leaving her own 
home was mine — the only home she has ever 
known since then is the Hermitage Farm, and, 
on her account, I know what it is to be both 
proud and happy. Let me see," he continued, 
changing his tone and taking out a note- 
book, " you owe to Mistress Sarah Arm- 
strong ^26, 13s. for butter. Is that correct ? " 

" It is a little more than that, I think," said 
Benjamin, proceeding to examine his journal. 



MASSTON. 93 

" Very well, you must pay up. I will cer- 
tainly take no less, and as much more as you 
like. How much may your buttership have 
made by way of profit ? " 

" Exactly £2, is. 8d.," replied the reader of 
Tennyson, and vendor of genuine butter. 

" That is hardly enough," remarked the 
Doctor in an inquisitive tone. 

"It is enough for me. You know, sir, I 
provide some profit for the buyers." 

"If you don't take care you will have the 
big dealers down upon you, for spoiling their 
trade. By the way, what a rare fellow your 
friend Blanchard is, I believe he is deeply in 
love with Sarah." 

" So I gather from Paul," said Benjamin in 
a neutral tone. " Do you think she cares for 
him ?" 

" That," replied the Doctor good-naturedly, 
" will depend on me. She will do nothing 
without my consent. What we shall do when 
we lose her I cannot begin to guess. I dread 



94 MASSTON. 

to think of it. All I can say at present is, that 
I will not stand in the way of Sarah's happiness. 
Will you come to the wedding if we ask you ? " 

" I would walk there in bare feet, if the way 
were paved with flints." 

" No, no," said the Doctor, feeling the taste 
of a forgotten joy ; " you shall come in her 
father's shoes. But I must say good-bye now, 
or I shall be late for dinner." And Dr. Cum- 
berladge left Benjamin Jeavons' shop with a 
much lighter heart than when he entered it. 



( 95 ) 



CHAPTER VI. 

• • There have been men whom even vulgar and tavern music, which 
makes one man merry and another mad, strikes in them a deep fit of 
devotion, and a profound contemplation of the First Composer." 

— Religio Medici. 

While Edith and Jeavons went on, carrying 
out their different schemes of benevolence, the 
one for supplying the helpless people of 
Masston with wholesome food, and the other 
for curing their souls, and both were more or 
less contented with a work that, after all, 
would probably amount to sprinkling a house 
on fire with a watering-pot, or at best the rush- 
ing of a rapid river into the proud and careless 
ocean, Paul Blanchard was raised to happi- 
ness far higher than theirs by the discovery of 
a new world. He had asked Warner to let 
Julia know that the white kitten would one day 



96 MASSTON. 

skip on his hearth ; a request whose daring 
could only spring from the illumination of his 
whole being. He was like the heroes of fairy 
tales, whose bear-skins at a magic touch drop 
off to reveal the prince beneath : for, from the 
fact that he was not despised by the woman 
whom he felt to be far above him, he had 
learnt that his gracelessness was not wilful, and 
his wickedness only skin deep. From the day 
when he first saw Sarah, he had felt bound to 
convey his new self to her who was its author. 
He made many visits to the Hermitage Chapel, 
and every interview with her gave him at once 
the desire and the power to become, in his own 
mind, more worthy to approach her. He felt 
like one who escapes from the streets and alleys 
of a cramped life, into the summer of the world ; 
like one who has been torn with pain, and now 
is soothed with the rocking of the waves, that 
bear him further and further into the sunlight. 
All this did he feel, and yet found no words to 
tell it to the woman whose existence was a 



MASSTON. 97 

revelation to him. At length one day he left 
Masston burdened with intention, and laid his 
burden at the feet of Sarah. 

" I love you," he said. 

Sarah drew suddenly back from him. There 
was no rejection to be learned from her face, 
but there was an alarm in her look and action 
which filled Paul with amazement. 

" You do not repulse me ?" he cried passion- 
ately. 

" I said," answered Sarah with some agita- 
tion, " I would be your friend." 

" But I," said Paul, "love you and would be 
your husband." He took her hand ; the trees 
bowed gently through the windows ; the 
knights looked down approvingly ; and a 
glad light streamed through the ivy porch, 
as Doctor Cumberladge strolled into the 
chapel. 

" Good morning, Mr. Blanchard," he said 
in a welcoming voice. " Are you going away, 
Sarah ?" 

VOL. II. G 



98 MASSTON. 

" Yes," she answered, and went quickly to- 
wards the house. 

Before Paul, who looked anxiously after her, 
could give any voice to his contending feelings, 
the Doctor said — 

" So you don't think there is much to be 
done to the chapel ? " 

To which Paul answered with audacity, 
" There is nothing in the chapel now." 

" So you think — so you think," remarked the 
Doctor regarding Paul attentively. 

" I am sure," said Blanchard, " that the only 
way to restore this lordly old ruin, will be to 
turn it to some happy use." 

" Stop ! " exclaimed the Doctor, " we must 
speak of this." 

" I don't want to do anything else," replied 
Blanchard, opening wide his hands, and putting 
himself erect as if to court the most searching 
inquisition. 

" Of course, I know," continued the Doctor, 
beginning to walk up and down with his stick 



MASSTON. 99 

grasped behind his back, " that you have been 
making love to my dear friend Sarah Arm- 
strong." 

" I am glad that you know it," said Paul ; 
" and if my telling you, what I have already 
told to her, will help me, I will ask you to do 
for me what you can." 

" Ha, hum," said the Doctor ; " you know my 
friend Jeavons, I believe. He could tell you 
much of Sarah, and no doubt he has." 

" I don't want anybody to tell me anything," 
said Paul ; " I know Jeavons, I am glad to say, 
well enough, but I have never asked him any- 
thing on this matter, and he has never told me, 
although he knows of my coming, and why I 
come here." 

" Nevertheless," said the Doctor, " it is 
necessary that you should know something 
which I alone can tell you. I assumed 
the charge of my friend Sarah's happiness, 
and I must fulfil a duty to her as well as to 
you." 



I OO MASSTON. 

The Doctor, schooling Blanchard to silence 
with an imposing gesture, proceeded to say — 
" I would rather sever this arm from my body 
than that any pain should come to my friend. 
She has had enough already, which she has 
outlived. She is perfectly happy with us, 
and I will not allow the past to overtake 
her." 

The Doctor then told Sarah's story as he 
knew it, suppressing only Warner's name and 
all clue to it, and said — 

" Now, you know all. Act for yourself. I 
will promise you no help, nor will I be any 
obstacle. I have discharged my duty to you, 
but ask me any question you like. Will you 
come in now and see my wife ? lunch will be 
about ready." 

Blanchard, whose old sins came back in a 
new light to him after hearing the Doctor's 
recital, felt his passion, if subdued, deepened. 
His attitude might well be mistaken by the 
friend of Sarah, who saw his drooping head, 



MASSTON. IOI 

but did not know that Paul was then discover- 
ing- the full meaning for him of words he had 
pondered before, — 

"That men may rise on stepping stones, 
Of their dead selves to higher things." 

Presently he raised his head and said with 
some emotion — 

" I shall be glad to see Mistress Cumber- 
ladge, of whom I have heard so much." 

They went inside the house, where Paul 
found not only Dame Cumberladge, who re- 
ceived him like a gracious queen bestowing a 
boon, but Sarah Armstrong, seated by her 
side. In front of Sarah sat Dolly Cumber- 
ladge, much like her mother in the fulness of 
her quiet gaze and the grace of her person, 
but really more like her father in the quality 
of her mind, and in the decision of her cha- 
racter. Shirley Cumberladge, the son of his 
mother, and like her in all things, stood behind 
Sarah's chair, and brother and sister seemed 
to make of themselves two guards, prepared to 



102 MASSTON. 

lose their lives in defence of one whom they 
both loved. 

As they sat together at lunch, Paul ventured 
on the suggestion that Shirley would become 
a doctor after his father's example. 

" He would rather be a knight," said Dolly, 
" but then, as he says, there's no work for 
knights to do now." 

" I know some knights," said Paul, looking 
at Sarah, " but they are dead ones, who have 
done some good work lately." 

" Those must be the knights in the chapel," 
said Dolly with a laugh. 

" Mr. Blanchard," remarked the Doctor, 
" must be a poet ; he has fantastic whims 
about these old knights; and, I confess, without 
claiming to be a poet, so have I. At times 
their stony eyes chill me so that I grow stiff 
and motionless, and stone looks on stone." 

" How different we all are," said Sarah, look- 
ing steadfastly at the needlework in her hand. 
" The first time I saw these knights, they 



MASSTON. IO3 

carried me back to very early days, when I 
read the story of Mr. Greatheart, and the more 
we have cleaned away the rubbish from the 
chapel and got more light, the greater likeness 
do I see between all these knights and that 
bright and shining one. He might have been 

o £3 o 

a Cumberladge, I think." 

" Then you still believe in your Mr. Great- 
heart being a real person," said Dolly. 

" Do not you ? " asked Sarah. 

" No," said Shirley, " Dolly has lost such 
beliefs, since she took to reading a different 
kind of novel." 

" Do you read novels, Miss Cumberladge ? " 
inquired Paul. 

" I have sat up all night reading novels," 
was the answer, " but that was when I was 
very young." 

" And now that you are an old woman of 
three-and-twenty," said the Doctor, " you have 
given up such vain things ? " 

" No, father, I have not given them up. I 



104 MASSTON. 

should be glad to read even the story of my own 
life put into a novel, only it would have to be as 
true and beautiful as a portrait by Sir Joshua." 

" I had long had a notion," said Paul, turning 
his words in Sarah's direction, " that we get 
our taste for novels from the early use of look- 
ing-glasses, and now I am convinced that this 
is true," on which there was some pleasant 
laughter. 

" How these two children of mine," observed 
the Doctor, " ever took up the reading of 
romances is a painful mystery to me." 

"Oh!" said Dolly, "why did you not tell 
me this before, I could have cleared up the 
mystery years ago. It came from " 

"Stop!" cried the Doctor, "do not tell me. 
There is nothing I like better than to keep a 
mystery on hand which I know I can solve 
when I will." 

At that very minute a boy's figure crossed 
the landscape, in that part at which Dolly was 
gazing. She saw this figure at play with her 



MASSTON. IO5 

little brother Shirley. At the same moment 
Dame Cumberladge heard a child's voice say, 
" Are you not my mother ? " 

" When I was a boy," said Paul, in mys- 
terious sympathy with these unbidden thoughts, 
"books did not come to me, nor was I taken 
to them. My eyes caught the shapes of 
things on hedges and in trees, and I shall 
never forget the first time that I saw the eye 
of an apple ? " 

" Do you not mean the apple of an eye ? " 
inquired Dolly, who had a playful furtive 
glance for everything. 

" No," said Paul, amidst much laughter, " I 
mean the thing opposite to the apple's tail." 

"This proves again," said Sarah, who was 
fond of such simple talk, " what I said about 
the different impressions people get from the 
same thing-. I am sure I never looked at an 
apple's eye." 

" And pray what did you see in it ?" inquired 
Miss Dolly. 



106 MASSTON. 

" I saw a star," answered Paul. 

Sarah and the rest glanced at him, but saw 
nothing in his face that answered to his 
thoughts. 

"A star," he went on in a very practical 
tone, " of which thousands are now made at 
the Oxford Works every week in brass. And 
the apple's eye was the beginning of my being 
Mr. Robert Warner's chief designer." 

The Doctor looked at Sarah when Warner's 
name was spoken, but saw in her no trace of 
a recollection that the name was once dear 
to her. And Dame Cumberladge raised her 
eyes which met Sarah's in a glance of per- 
fect calmness and repose. Nor was there a 
tremor in Sarah's voice as she said to Paul, 
" And did you learn nothing from the apple 
itself?" 

" I learned," said Paul, " to love many things 
which recall to me the apple's beauty." 

" Why, this," said Dolly, " is almost as nice 
as a novel." 



MASSTON. IO7 

" Come," said the Doctor, " we have had 
enough of novels ; let us go for a walk." 

They passed into the fields, Sarah and 
Dame Cumberladge together, Dolly kept close 
to her father, with Paul and Shirley accom- 
panying them. Presently, as they passed 
along the hedgerows, they came upon clusters 
of ferns, which apparently no one had planted 
and certainly no one regarded ; their dry curled 
fronds giving them an expression of heedless- 
ness for any company save their own. But 
in spite of their dryness and indifference, there 
were eyes which were accustomed to regard 
and to find in them much beauty and some use. 

"If everything," said Paul, breaking away 
from the Doctor to join the Dame and Sarah, 
" had its reward in this world, these ferns 
should have a number of pounds sterling, which 
I have kept for myself. But since they will 
not, or cannot, share their profits with me, as a 
reward, let me do them an honour they will 
prize more." 



IOS MASSTON. 

So saying he cut off their heads and pre- 
sented them to Sarah. 

" What ! " cried Dolly, " is this the way you 
reward your friends ? " 

" Of course," said Paul in his fullest voice ; 
" what better fate could I wish them ? " 

" There are plenty of precedents," said the 
Doctor. 

" How very clean," said Sarah, " ferns always 
are ; they are beautiful when alive, but more 
beautiful when dead." 

" I don't know," said the Doctor in a youth- 
ful voice, " which I would rather have," and 
here he took Dolly round the waist as if he 
were her lover ; " a quantity of lovely things to 
look at — or a mind that sees loveliness in 
everything it sees." 

" I believe that Sarah," said Dolly, " could 
even find something nice to look at in a pig- 
sty." 

" That is not very difficult," said Sarah ; " four 
little pigs' noses, clean and bright, tossing them- 



MASSTON. IO9 

selves at you, as if asking for something which 
you can only give them, make a very pleasant 
sight." 

" If you go on at this rate," said Dame 
Cumberladge with her accustomed sweetness, 
"we cannot tell how much we may learn by 
looking at things afresh." 

" Stars in the calix of an apple," said Shirley, 
"gold in dead ferns, prettiness in pigs' noses." 

" And," quoted the Doctor in his didactic 
vein, " good in everything." 

As they continued their stroll over the 
buttercups, it seemed that they belonged all to 
one family, and that one spirit ruled them all. 

Late that evening Paul left the Hermitage 
Farm, whither he was to return next day, 
through a darkness which brought him much 
pleasure ; in it was there no sadness, and no 
fear, only the rest that was needed for the 
strength and splendour of life, which he knew 
would come. And that pleasure was increased 
as, passing under the sombre silent boughs 



I IO MASSTON. 

which overarched his path, he felt that he 
could tell them a story of gladness which they 
knew not yet. As the lights of Masston came 
into view, he looked back on a soft darkness, 
sorry to leave it for the vulgar certainty of 
the Mare that lighted the restless nicrht of 
the town. 

While this palmer passed through the streets 
of Masston, careless now of their vulgar and 
tavern music which had once attracted him to 
madness, there came towards him another 
pilgrim who bore a thyrsus rather than a palm ; 
who was as much in love as Paul was, and on 
whose ears the clishmaclaver of the streets fell 
equally unheeded. This second lover had one 
advantage over Paul Blanchard in knowing 
that his love would be returned ; the object of 
it being none other than the delicate self 
known by the name of Lord Francis Elbston, 
cousin of Lord Limethorpe, who was the friend 
of Mr. John Buckle, and with him the real 
origin of the Oxford Works. If the pious 



MASSTON. Til 

creditors of the master of that famous manu- 
factory, to whom the stability and excellence of 
Robert Warner were things as instinctively 
known as their own wealth, could have guessed 
that under their windows there was passing, 
with a jaunty step, a young man who might at 
any time turn their treasure to dust, their sleep 
might have been troubled, or their thoughts 
perforce diverted to laying up some sort of 
treasure which thieves could not steal. For it 
often happens that when a man has failed in 
making a profit out of both worlds, he betakes 
himself eagerly to drawing cheques which 
can be dishonoured only by his own want of 
faith in the security. With such reflections as 
these, however, Lord Francis was the last 
person to be disturbed. He had ever a con- 
fidence in his own resources, or rather in the 
provision of resources made for him by others, 
which had helped him successfully through a 
sea of trouble that must have swamped any one 
weighted with thought or care of consequence. 



I I 2 MASSTON. 

Upon this sea his daring emptiness had safely- 
floated him. 

It becomes necessary to recall the circum- 
stances of Lord Francis's connection with 
Warner. 

Up to the time of his flight from England, 
compelled by the discreditable transaction 
already referred to, Mr. John Buckle, the 
possessor by inheritance of the business which 
afterwards grew into the Oxford Works, had 
been in the habit of supplying Lord Francis 
with money. Master John, as his friends 
called him, was impelled to do this by a desire, 
common enough in Masston, to bask in the 
sunshine of aristocracy. This sunshine was 
freely offered by Lord Francis, who knew well 
how to turn his charm of manner into a com- 
mercially valuable possession. Mr. Buckle 
overshot his mark in that, in his eagerness to 
make his pursuits inseparable from Lord 
Elbston's, he took an obnoxious part in the 
disabling of " Traveller," the famous horse, who 



MASSTON. f 13 

stood to win the greatest stake of the Folk- 
shire race. At this time such an undertaking 
had the merit of novelty ; and the friends of 
Lord Francis, his uncle among them, when they 
were afflicted with moral proof of the dis- 
honesty of one of themselves, made an effort 
to prevent any legal proof coming to light by 
helping the two men, who might possibly 
degrade their caste by being found out, away 
from the reach of conviction. The matter was 
so well managed, that no one out of the pale of 
Lord Francis's close acquaintance could venture 
to mouth any suspicion he had ; while, on the 
other hand, this state of things might have 
been endangered, had Mr. Buckle remained in 
Masston. Whether from desire to repay his 
friends' kindness by helping a tradesman to 
step over their heads, or for some compunc- 
tion towards his disciple, when he learned that 
Buckle had made over, on certain conditions, his 
father's old-established business to Robert War- 
ner, Lord Francis, before he left the country, 
vol. 11. h 



I 1 4 MASSTON. 

appointed Warner as his agent over various 
lands associated with the Limethorpe estate. 
The lands then were apparently worthless, but 
if Mr. Warner, in his office as agent, could turn 
them to value, then a certain defined reward 
was to come to him. Lord Francis retained all 
legal claim over these acres, for to the courage 
of his race, he united an eye for eventualities ; 
and while Mr. John Buckle, the follower, 
skulked out of Masston, Lord Francis Elbston 
marched out of it, as one not altogether with- 
out hope. 

It was to such insistance as he could, that 
Lord Francis now returned. As he strolled 
back to his hotel through the bulging opulence 
of Masston, perfectly satisfied with his wisdom 
in the step he had taken, he passed Paul Blan- 
chard, the man whose genius had quickened 
the wealth he had come to seek. But it was 
not given even to the trained eye of a disgraced 
aristocrat, to discern the spirit of all things. 



( n5 ) 



CHAPTER VII. 

" Certes this world a stage might well be called, 
Whereon is played the part of every wight, 
Some now aloft, anon with malice galled, 
Are from high state brought into dismal plight. 
Like counters are they, which stand now in sight 
For thousand or ten thousand, and anon, 
Removed stand perhaps for less than one." 

— T. Newton, Mirror for Magistrates. 

The proposed meeting at the Oxford Works, 
which had given rise to so many hopes and 
fears, left nothing in tone or tint, up to a certain 
stage of it, to be desired even by Lord Lime- 
thorpe. The conjunction of decorum with piety 
produced a display of excellent manners and 
an exhibition of good taste. The good old 
lord was surprised into admissions for which he 
would have been unprepared the day before. 
Mr. Gadso was shaken in a few matters of 
ecclesiastical etiquette, and confided to Mr. 



Il6 MASSTON. 

Warner, that rather than forego the happiness 
which such a meeting conferred, he would give 
up preaching in his gown : and was willing 
that the Act of Uniformity should perish rather 
than the cause of true religion should cease to 
be honoured by a commingling of its profes- 
sors such as had taken place that morning. 

But there is nothing perfect in this world, 
and enterprises of great pith and moment, as 
well as a man's finest pleasures, have been 
thwarted before now by the most frivolous 
excuses and the most trivial of events. 

It was proposed that a formal account of the 
happy meeting should be drawn up and signed 
by all who had taken part in it, and the record 
be kept. 

"Sign," said Lord Limethorpe to Mr. 
Gadso, but the reverend gentleman refused 
with much meekness, saying, "No; your lord- 
ship first." 

" I am only a layman," replied his lordship, 
and this is a meeting of clergymen and mini- 



MASSTON, *II7 

sters, an official representation of the leading 
evangelical churches, which, we trust, may one 
day come into the unity of an active co-opera- 
tion. I shall sign, of course, as chairman of 
the meeting, and therefore last." 

This was decisive. Mr. Gadso thereupon 
signed, and added B.D. to his name, which 
was remarked upon in silence by our dissenting 
brethren. After writing his name, Mr. Gadso 
handed the pen to Mr. Sweetapple, who 
followed with M.A. Our Methodist brother 
thought these distinctions worldly and uncalled- 
for. The Independent looked upon them as 
offensive. So did the Baptist. But nothing 
was said. Mr. Sweetapple gracefully shirked 
the responsibility of handing the pen to any 
one, and laid it down. The Wesleyan at once 
pushed his way to the table, took up the pen, 
signed, and kept his place without making 
way for another, like one who, having gained 
an advantage, is unwilling to relinquish it on 
light or trivial grounds. The Independent 



Il8 MASSTON. 

minister, a dark, awkward man, with the ac- 
quired manners of a blunt, outspoken, original 
thinker, advanced to the table, and stretched 
out his arm to take the inkpot from its buhl 
stand, intending to carry it to his own corner, 
and enjoy the pleasure of writing his name 
under circumstances of his own creation. In 
those days buhl inkstands were not so severe 
in design as now, but were very elaborate 
things, and it was not so easy as it looked to 
extract a massive glass inkbottle with the 
points of the fingers from what seemed to be a 
miniature chevaux de frise. But this the Inde- 
pendent minister proceeded to do. By a most 
unlucky and painful accident the heavy inkpot, 
but slightly held between the fingers, slipped 
from its holdings and fell, and with it fell its 
contents on to the spotless white trousers of 
Lord Limethorpe. There was a movement 
amounting almost to a commotion. But Mr. 
Gadso was equal to the occasion ; he gave out 
the first line of the Doxology, which was sung 



MASSTON. € 1 9 

with surprising vigour, pronounced the bene- 
diction in his best manner, and the meeting was 
over. Each man left the room with the rapidity 
with which a medical man has been known 
to leave church during the morning service 
on receiving an urgent message, even though 
his way lay up the middle aisle. Lord Lime- 
thorpe, the only person not greatly discon- 
certed, walked quietly away, carrying his hat 
in his hand, till he reached the door, looking 
as calm and unconscious as if he were walking 
out of St. Paul's on a Sunday morning. He 
was followed by Mr. Warner, who said with 
much earnestness — 

" Let me send for a cab for your lordship. 
I am quite distressed at this." 

" I am much obliged, I should be glad of 
a cab." 

And the lord and the master of the Oxford 
Works remained together in the outer room 
while the cab was sent for. No words passed 
between them. When the cab arrived his lord- 



1 20 MASSTON. 

ship said, " Good morning, Warner," in a cheer- 
ful voice. Away went the cab, and Warner 
returned to his own room, and was speedily 
engaged in profound commercial thought. Not 
more than a few minutes appeared to have 
elapsed before Lord Limethorpe returned, 
and in a somewhat hurried manner entered 
Warner's room, and began looking under the 
table, and on the table, near to where he had 
sat during the meeting, and where Mr. Warner 
was sitting then. 

Before Warner could speak, Lord Lime- 
thorpe said in an abrupt tone of voice — 

" I left my pocket-book on that table, close 
to where you are now sitting." 

Warner, who was much surprised to see 
Lord Limethorpe, was more astonished at his 
peremptory manner, and the words he used. 
Indeed he was dumb with astonishment. At 
last he said — 

" It is quite impossible ; your lordship must 
be mistaken." 



MASSTON. 12 1 

" I am never mistaken, Mr. Warner, when I 
make a deliberate statement." 

" What, or whom, does your lordship sus- 
pect ? " said Warner, changing colour, as a mon- 
strous and terrible thought flashed across his 
mind. 

" I suspect nothing. I repeat what I say — I 
left my pocket-book on that table." 

" I trust nothing of any value or importance 
was in it," replied the other with trepidation. 

" Had there been nothing in it of value 
and importance," said his lordship, " I would 
not have troubled myself, being in this 
plight, to come back here ; " looking Warner 
in the face in a very determined manner, and 
as if he were in the heat of a theological 
argument. 

Warner was in the utmost consternation. 
The appearance of Lord Limethorpe, with the 
great splashes of black ink on his white clothes, 
his fists clenched, and daubed with writing- 
fluid, his hat jerked more than half-way off his 



122 MASSTON. 

head, his face red, and his whole attitude 
menacing, produced very mixed emotions in 
Warner's mind, in which horror and surprise 
contended with alarm for the mastery. 

" Do you think that I have got your pocket- 
book ? " inquired Warner, rising to his feet and 
speaking in a tone of voice that greatly agitated 
him. 

" I think nothing," was his lordship's reply ; 
" I only know that I left it on that table." 

It is not unlikely that this blunt question, 
asked in vulgar tones, and with a low and 
vulgar expression on the face, was suggested 
by Lord Limethorpe's appearance. How was 
it possible for a man like Mr. Warner, with a 
firm faith in the infallibility of clothes, to feel 
otherwise than something approaching con- 
tempt for one who but just now was a dignified 
lord of the realm, and who had, as if by some 
devilish magic, been changed into a chimney- 
sweeper ? 

Warner's face changed visibly. A new 



MASSTON. I«3 

thought seemed to seize him. He ran to the 
door which communicated with the yard, and 
in a loud voice called out — 

" Nield, ring the fire-bell, close the front 
gates, and let no one leave the works." 

Warner had trained his hands to troop down 
in orderly discipline whenever the fire-bell was 
rung, which was done at unexpected intervals 
for the sake of practice. 

He returned to the room, where he disco- 
vered Lord Limethorpe inconsistently searching 
his own coat pockets. Warner began to do so 
likewise, each man looking the other in the face 
with staring eyes, and a turbulent movement of 
the shoulders ; the fire-bell making a hideous 
clanging noise all the while, which made the 
windows tremble, and added fresh energy to 
the motions of the two anxious men. 

At the sound of the bell a thousand men, 
women, boys, and girls, poured themselves out 
of numerous shops and rooms into the great 
quadrangle. All the hands came down in 



1 24 MASSTON. 

rapid yet marshalled array, some carrying 
buckets, and all on the alert. 

" There is no fire ! " cried Warner, in a voice 
of thunder, as he appeared on the upper step 
of the flight which led into his room. " I am 
pleased as usual with your prompt and orderly 
movement. Stay," he added, in eager com- 
mand, as he saw signs of departure among 
some of the crowd. 

All eyes were now turned towards Warner, 
whose pale and anxious face caused no small 
amazement among the people. 

"If there is no fire, then, what is there ? there 
must be something up to make the gaffer look 
like that." " Blest if he doesn't look as if he 
had seen a ghost," were some of the remarks of 
the people made in confidence to their friends. 

Warner advanced into the centre of the yard, 
and called around him the heads of the depart- 
ments, some of whom were standing outside the 
crowd. These he addressed in bold and rapid 
words, telling them that, to his great sorrow 



MASSTON. 12 5 

and indignation, it appeared that a robbery of 
a most daring nature had been committed that 
morning in the Oxford Works ; that the person 
robbed was none other than the Lord Lime- 
thorpe, and his lordship it was who made that 
charge. " I have called you together in this 
sudden manner in order that we may convince 
Lord Limethorpe of the utter impossibility of 
such a crime being perpetrated on these pre- 
mises — premises which, I am proud to say, ever 
since I have been master of them, have never 
been soiled by the committal of one immoral 
or criminal act. 

" You will all be searched," he continued. 
" This, my friends, is only a form, but it is due 
to you, to me, to these works, and to Lord 
Limethorpe, that this form be gone through. I 
have searched myself, and each of you shall 
search the other, that all may share in the plea- 
sure and the triumph of your innocence as well 
as my own being established." 

This ostentation was natural to Warner. 



126 MASSTON. 

No one knew better how to turn an occasion 
of seeming defeat to advantage. Of course 
if he had not implicitly believed in the utter 
impossibility of any one of his people being 
implicated in a charge of such enormity, he 
would not have gone through the expensive 
ceremony he was then conducting with so 
much satisfaction to himself. It would occupy 
at least a couple of hours, which, being equal 
to the loss of two thousand hours of work, 
made it a costly parade indeed. 

Warner kept his place on the temporary 
stand, looking around with confidence, his 
handsome features being now flushed with a 
pleased excitement, and the deadly whiteness 
of his face having gone away. His practised 
eye soon detected a few irregularities, which, 
the novel employment the hands were then 
engaged in, naturally brought to pass. So, he 
called out in commanding tones, " The men 
must search the men — the women, the women. 
You boys, all fall in on one side." 



MASSTON. 1,2 7 

Suddenly there was a great shout of merri- 
ment. It arose on the appearance of Lord 
Limethorpe on Warner's door-step, from which 
his lordship's inky garments came into the full 
view of the crowd. He descended, and made 
his way to where Warner, in a proud attitude, 
stood facing the hands. 

" I assure you, Mr. Warner, that it was the 
farthest thing from my thoughts to accuse any 
one of taking my pocket-book. I accuse no 
one ; much rather would I accuse myself. I 
have been trying with all my might to find 
the missing book, as I would have given the 
world to have found it in one of my own 
pockets. I say that I suspect no one — nor 
accuse any one of rob — take — having my 
pocket-book," said Lord Limethorpe, with 
much stammering and real feeling. 

Warner, thoroughly believing in Lord Lime- 
thorpe's mistake, assumed a cruelty of manner, 
partly natural, partly designed — or the design 
was suggested by his cruelty. 



128 MASSTON. 

" My lord, I believe you," said he, address- 
ing not Lord Limethorpe, but the people before 
him. " Some mistake has, no doubt, been 
made. Your lordship has evidently got very 
excited. I was made angry myself, but I 
must now be allowed to take my own mea- 
sures, and do what I think right." 

There was now a coarseness in Warner's 
demeanour which delighted some of the 
hands, for they saw that their master knew 
how to speak up to a lord, without being 
afraid. 

Warner was carried out of his artificial self, 
and the real Robert Warner, who had lain 
concealed beneath the veneer of refinement, 
religion, and respectability, with which, by his 
own will, and the aid of a commercial people, 
he had been able to coat himself, appeared in 
his true colours. Even to himself did this 
appearance come with as much surprise as it 
could have borne to those who had watched 
his career from its very beginning. 



MASSTON. 1*29 

Shaking himself free as if from some mo- 
mentary danger or weakness, he called out in a 
loud imperious voice — 

"Where is Mr. Reklaw ? " 

" Here, sir," replied that worthy, who had, 
but just a moment before, arrived on the scene, 
and was standing behind his master. 

" I do not see Mr. Blanchard." 

" He is in his room, sir," answered Mr. 
Reklaw in a low voice. 

" Send for him at once. It is my desire that 
all be present at this investigation. I wish to 
be surrounded by all my people." 

Warner said this with a haughty toss of the 
head, and a fling in the air of his right arm, 
evidently intended for the much-enduring lord 
who stood wrapt in sadness close by. 

The carnival of search went on. Men and 

women were standing in grotesque attitudes 

with their pockets turned inside out. More 

than one daring fellow, lost to all sense of 

decorum, if he ever possessed any, might be 
vol. 11. 1 



I3O MASSTON. 

seen stretching out the pockets of his trousers 
between thumb and finger, and putting on his 
face a saucy, imploring look in the direction of 
his employer. A wretched boy, ragged and 
dirty, who must have been a very recent 
comer, ran up to Lord Limethorpe with his 
shoes in his hands, his head thrown back 
between them, and his mouth very wide open, 
to give his lordship the opportunity of " search- 
ing his gullet." 

And many other similar playful familiar- 
ities were taken by the crowd with their friends 
and companions that need not be repeated, 
which although not very witty to us yet pro- 
voked mirth in them, and in a general way 
proved their innocency of the charge laid 
against some person or persons unknown. 

The speculations of the people on the pro- 
bable contents of the missing pocket-book were 
numerous, and showed how strong in them was 
the imaginative faculty. They took it for 
granted that the contents could not amount to 



MASSTON. I 3 I 

less than several thousands of pounds in bank 
notes. 

" Whadiyou know about bank notes ? " 

" Whyihaheardun say as how youcan hev 
fithousand pound in a single note." 

This was disputed with much heat by the 
ladies, among whom the controversy diverged 
into a free exchange of sympathy of tastes, in 
such things as bank notes of great value could 
purchase. The conversation was fluent, but 
the ideas were few. One lady, distinguished for 
her expressive face and her parti-coloured eyes, 
whose print gown reached only a little below 
her knees, and who was appealed to as " Sal," 
on being asked what she would do with five 
thousand pounds if she had it, replied in great 
humility, " My eyes ! if I know." 

Others volunteered their ideas on the same 
subject with a ready cheerfulness as if it were 
matter of frequent meditation, while some 
again were utterly bewildered like little children 
cooped up in a gloomy room being suddenly 



132 MASSTON. 

exposed to the strong beams of a mid-day sun. 
The chatter was closed in a burst of laughter 
by a feeble creature with pale hair, and meek 
gray eyes set in pink rims, saying, as if suddenly 
inspired with a great idea, that if she " only 
had five thousand pound she would have a 
baby." 

On the whole the ignorance of these people 
was very pitiable; there was no lack of good feel- 
ing amongst them, and there might have been 
abundance of good humour, but their brains 
were clouded with care, as a field long since in 
Chancery is covered with thistles, where not 
even a butter-cup or daisy would condescend to 
take root and grow. But coarse as they were, 
they were not depraved. They had seen 
better days ; the days when some kind of 
human duty, not too hard to do, had kept them 
willingly occupied — for the doing of it brought 
some growth and pleasant fruit — now they 
were chained to a dull round of toil which 
took their senses captive, and made them feel 



MASSTON. I33 

that they were doomed to an everlasting task 
which grows duller, and still more dull every 
day which creeps upon them, and which shall 
continue to creep and crawl down to the last 
syllable of recorded time. 

Lord Limethorpe, who had been conversing 
with Warner on quite different topics, here 
raised his hat to the master of the Oxford 
Works, and was taking his leave, when a 
sound, so sudden and so harsh, rent the air, 
that he turned to ascertain its meaning. It 
was an unearthly sound, and to him seemed 
as if hell itself had broken loose and was crying 
havoc on the world. 

Three of the superior clerks had hurriedly 
entered the yard, one of whom carried in his 
right hand, which was raised on high, a purple 
leather pocket-book. On the instant the people 
divined that the missing book with its roll of 
wealth had been discovered — that it had been 
stolen, and the thief detected. 

Warner stood like a statue. As the clerk 



1 34 MASSTON. 

handed to him the pocket-book he clasped it 
in both hands, which he raised appealingly to 
heaven amid the execrations of the mob. He 
continued in that impressive attitude until the 
cries and hootings abated. Then turning to 
Lord Limethorpe he asked in an uncontrollable 
voice — 

" Is this your pocket-book ? " 

" It is," replied Lord Limethorpe, looking 
inexpressibly sad. 

Warner started as if he had been shot. 

" Where did you find this?" Warner inquired 
in agitated words. 

"We found it in Mr. Blanchard's coat 
pocket ! " 

" Blanchard ! Blanchard ! Mr. Blanchard," 
was quietly passed through the crowd until it 
reached the ear of a short pale-faced man in 
remarkably clean linen, who exclaimed — 

"Mr. Blanchard! oh! that be damned!" 
and walked away. 

There was now a hush. Every human being 



MASSTON. /35 

could hear himself breathe. In the midst of 
the sudden silence, Warner was heard to say in 
a hoarse voice — 

" Nield, take Paul Blanchard into custody." 
Nield was the watchman of the Oxford 
Works, and, as every one knows, Mr. Warner 
was one of the magistrates of Masston. 



( 136 ) 



CHAPTER VIII. 

" A distracted conscience here is a shadow or introduction into hell 
hereafter." — Sir Thomas Browne. 

" Faust. — How comes it then that thou art out of hell ? 
Meph. — Why this is hell, nor am I out of it." 

— Marlowe s Fans/us, i. 5- 

A strong man, torn with vexation, may be 
likened to a dog chained to a wall, whose 
frantic efforts to free himself from bondage 
cost him nearly his life. Mr. Warner was like 
an angry chained dog. No one dared to go 
near him, his sudden grief made him terrible 
to look upon. The Oxford Works were now 
stained with disgrace ; and infamy of the 
deepest dye would for ever be associated with 
their name. All his religious sentiments were 
scandalised, his most cherished feelings out- 
raged. He sat down in a corner of his room, 
and in agony began to imagine what his friends 



MASSTON. I'3 7 

and great acquaintances would say when the 
terrible news should reach them, and from 
time to time as the name of some fresh person- 
age occurred to him, and a new light was cast 
on the designer's crime, he would ejaculate, 
" My God ! " People would now believe any- 
thing that was put into their heads. Any lie 
started against him would be made to look 
like damning truth. How could he face his 
wife ? Had Mr. Gadso kindly gone and told 
her of the meeting ? It would please her to 
know that, but for the untoward accident of 
the inkpot, it had been a charming success. 
But now, after all her efforts, her anxiety, her 
hopes of this to which she had looked forward ; 
she would learn it had been the occasion of 
crime and disgrace ! What would she say ? 

There must be in some part of the unseen 
universe intelligent beings, who, not yet ripe 
for the refinements of the higher spheres, are 
set to watch the ways of men, and learn 
the effects of disobedience to heavenly rule ; 



I38 MASSTON. 

the fate of the hypocrite, the discomfiture of 
impostors, and all such as practise the arts of 
deception on themselves as well as others. 
For the same weighty reason it is to be sup- 
posed, that these heavenly probationers in- 
dulge in laughter as they keep their watch. 
If that be so, and we have no evidence to the 
contrary, there must have been great mirth 
amongst them as they watched the miseries of 
Mr. Robert Warner as he sat that day in his 
room, the front of his head occupied with his 
own wickedness, his cerebellum with the 
wickedness of others and the possible conse- 
quence thereof to himself ; and not one spindle, 
handle, wheel, or crank, in the whole of his 
intellectual or moral machinery, equal to the 
task of producing one single spark of hope. 
There have been men before now who have 
caught the sound of demon's laughter, and 
there and then changed their minds, altered 
their ways, and turned straight out of the evil 
road in which they were walking into the paths 



MASSTON. I39 

of right. But Mr. Warner's ears were too dull 
for such catching of heavenly sounds. Say 
what he would, it was not Paul Blanchard's 
stealing Lord Limethorpe's pocket-book and 
being found out, which occupied his tortured 
brain : it was the conviction that he was ofoine 
to be found out himself, which brought the 
great beads of sweat on to his capacious brow : 
it was not what Edith would think of Paul 
Blanchard, but what she, and all her great 
friends, would think of him, her husband, 
when she and they should come to know of 
his thefts, and his other crimes whose names 
were at present only known to himself. These 
thoughts spread a horrible blackness over 
Warner's intelligence, and amonsj other things 
deepened his foolish conviction that Paul 
Blanchard, in view of his approaching marriage, 
had adopted this means of enriching himself : 
" The blackhearted fool ; I would have given 
him twice the amount with a free hand rather 
than this should have happened." Warner 



I40 MASSTON. 

spoke these words with the desperation of a 
man for whom heaven had no councils nor 
earth one helping hand. 

" The carriage is waiting, sir." 

Warner mechanically rose and walked out of 
the room. Once in the fresh air, new thoughts, 
but of the same hue, continued to fret him. 
" How could this wretched thief now marry 
Sarah Armstrong?" That was for ever out of 
the question, and many other things also, for 
ever and for ever out of the question. How 
many fresh fears had been started ? Just the 
number of the hopes that had been slain. 

The carriage rolled on, but Mr. Warner's 
painful thoughts kept pace with its swift 
wheels. He would °fet out and walk. This 
small effort was a slight help to him in trying 
to restore order to his confused spirits, now in 
as great a tumult as was the mob in the quad- 
rangle of the Oxford Works in the early part 
of the day. On alighting from the carriage a 
thought struck him, and he told the coachman 



MASSTON. I4I 

to " drive back to the works and tell Mr. 
Reklaw that he must come and see me to-night 
at the hall." 

The coachman, who knew there was some- 
thing amiss, and glad of the opportunity to 
carry some news to his co-mates of the stable 
and the servants' hall, who were but little 
blessed with means of gossip, drove back as he 
was ordered without the slightest token of dis- 
pleasure. 

As Warner walked leisurely on, passing by 
one or two grand houses, and catching glimpses 
of others in the distance equally imposing, his 
courage rose, and his mind began to clear as 
his sympathies with riches and power became 
quickened. No more pious or profane ejacu- 
lations rose to his lips. Elbston Hall came 
into view with its hundred front windows all 
ablaze with gold. When the old lord should 
die — and he could not in the course of nature 
be expected to live long — he, the master of the 
Oxford Works, might have the honour of 



142 MASSTON. 

making the mistress of Baston Lady of 
Elbston. That one inspiring idea brushed a 
hundred cobwebs from the inside of the house 
in which Warner lived. Yonder in a grove of 
trees rose the square tower of Elbston Church, 
steadfast, upright, unyielding, receiving the 
rays of the sun as if it were appointed to pre- 
serve them against a rainy day. Here the 
relieved pedestrian passed by a field enclosed 
in an ornamental fence, where there were 
painted cows feeding, in refined deliberation, 
undisturbed by a single care or an anxious 
thought. And right before, coming- towards 
him along the road were two ladies ; one tall, 
firm, high-bred, in strict keeping with the 
church tower — the other more in keeping with 
the golden air which danced among the leaves 
and played round the patient creatures who 
were rejoicing in the sweet grass. The one 
was his wife, the other her sister. 

" You must let me surprise him," observed 
Julia with much gaiety to Edith. 



MASSTON. l\2> 

As the two ladies drew near, Warner threw 
off the early troubles of the day, and he became 
occupied with other cares more easy to deal 
with than those which had cast such awful 
shadows on his soul. Besides, with Julia to 
help him, the conversation would not only be 
free, it might be gay. But Warner could no 
more remove the trace of painful conflict from 
his face, than a river can cleanse its bed of 
slime. Edith could not refrain from noticing 
her husband's face. But she said nothing. 
She had become accustomed to disappoint- 
ment. It had but too frequently happened, 
that the florid promises of the morning, became 
changed into drizzling doubts and clouded fears 
by night-time. She watched the face of her 
husband in silence, and, when a wife takes 
to such reading, and reads without comment, 
it is very likely that some jarring chord exists, 
which self-respect alone keeps from being 
touched. 

" Who do you think has been to see us ? " 



144 MASSTON. 

inquired Julia in her usual sprightliness of Mr. 
Warner as they drew near. 

Warner, who was in no hurry to answer, but 
saw by Julia's face that the visitor could not be 
any one connected with the day's trouble, said, 
turning to his wife — 

" Let me hope it was some one you were 
glad to see. I myself have very sad news 
to tell you. The meeting was every way 

successful. Did Mr. Gadso come to see 

~> " 
you r 

Edith simply shook her head. She saw that 
what she had longed and prayed for contained 
some distressing alloy. 

" A terrible, I may say a very awful, thing 
has happened at the works. I am utterly over- 
come and unmanned by it ; I am distracted. 
Oh ! " he continued in his best, earnest manner, 
" if you could now tell me that it was nothing 
but a dream, I would fall down here on my 
knees and thank and bless you. Lord Lime- 
thorpe's pocket-book, containing much of value, 



MASSTON. I45 

was stolen from my own room during the 
prayer-meeting by the — a — the designer." 

Warner could not, or would not, trust himself 
to mention the designer's name, and although 
both ladies knew well enough to whom allusion 
was made, neither said anything. It was too 
painful and inexplicable. To Julia it was as 
impossible that Paul Blanchard could be guilty 
of an atrocious crime as that she could steal 
her birds' wings, and use them to fly up into 
the sky. To Edith, who, as we know, had 
more defined knowledge than her sister, the 
unregenerate heart was liable at any moment 
to be overtaken, and led into a temptation, 
which it had no power to resist. She had 
always regarded Paul as being in a dangerous 
state, and though she was hurt to the quick, 
she was not surprised. 

" How was the discovery made ?" inquired 
Julia, the old Ascham spirit rising within her. 

" His lordship's book was found in the 
designer's pocket," was the reply. 

VOL. II. K 



I46 MASSTON. 

This was conclusive. 

Julia, seeing Mr. Warner to be unaffectedly 
troubled, and Edith with her eyes closed, her 
lips painfully compressed, and her face ashy 
pale, thinking to relieve the gloom of things by 
a little brightness of her own, repeated her 
former question to Warner, " Who do you think 
has been here ? " 

" Pray tell me, if it interests you," was the 
reply. 

Julia, who had prepared a little pleasant 
surprise, now feeling that nothing she could 
say would mend matters, remarked care- 
lessly, "It was only my very old friend Lord 
Francis, whom you have heard me speak of so 
much." 

" Lord Francis ! " exclaimed Warner, in a 
voice which not only opened Edith's eyes, but 
gave Julia the impression that the speaker had 
been shot. " How dare he ? It is impossible ! 
He could not have asked to see me ? " 

"Why, he left us to go to you," said both 



MASSTON. I47 

ladies, who regarded Warner's agitation with 
amazement. 

"He spoke so highly of you," continued 
Julia, " that we thought you must be delighted 
to see him, and I was delighted with the hope 
that you would certainly return with him to 
dinner. He spoke of you with warm admira- 
tion, which caused me great pleasure." 

Warner was now as much puzzled as per- 
plexed. Had his acquaintance with the polite 
world been greater, his perplexity would have 
increased. Dissimulation was natural to the 
master of the Oxford Works, it was a recog- 
nised and necessary element in business ; but 
the polite dissembling by which the commerce 
of cultivated people with each other is carried 
on, he held to be sinful, the very cankerworm 
of society ; certainly the evidence of its rotten- 
ness and corruption. Had Warner known that it 
was only by Lord Francis speaking such grace- 
ful lies of himself to the ladies, that his lordship 
could obtain the knowledge he required, and 



148 MASSTON. 

that in telling Mrs. Warner and Julia that he 
was on his way to Warner when he left them, 
the adroit and ignoble lord was simply angling 
for the help of two charming allies, Warner's 
suspicions might have taken some definite 
shape, and his alarm had certainly been 
deepened. He was now thrown back on him- 
self, the uppermost dread in his fearful soul 
being that if the treacherous trick on the Bristol 
merchants, years and years ago, were now to 
be brought to .light, they might accuse him, 
even him, the chief man in Masston, of stealing 
Lord Limethorpe's pocket-book, and when 
detection became inevitable, causing it to be 
conveyed into Paul Blanchard's pocket, nor 
would there be wanting many people who 
would believe it, black and horrid lie though it 
were. This introspection and self-communing 
made him incapable of perceiving the approach 
of a danger far greater than any he had 
imagined. 
They walked leisurely on to the Hall, for 



MASSTON. 1 49 

some time in silence, which was broken by an 
audible sigh from Edith. Her troubles were 
none the less light because they were indefinite. 
Had she discovered the difference between the 
cares we make for ourselves, and those which 
are made for us by others ? It is but too 
likely. She was not a lady of great mental 
powers, nor were her associates any more than 
herself careful to distinguish strong opinions 
from intellectual strength. Like many more 
exalted women, Edith Warner had learned to 
walk by faith. It was a sweet luxury. She 
could barely toddle when she ventured into the 
paths of reason, and this brought her much 
bitterness. She sighed and hardly knew why. 
Perhaps some spectre, waiting for a darker 
hour in which to reveal itself, had crossed her 
mind to intimate its existence, and prepare her 
for something that would one day surely come, 
take up its abode in her soul, and remain with 
her for ever, as a torment from which there 
should be no promise of escape. Perhaps not, 



1 50 MASSTON. 

although spectres are much more common than 
we think for, and there are spectres of the day 
as well as of the nisjht. 

Truth to tell, Edith's married life had 
brought her no married joy, and the very object 
for which she had married was further off now 
than it was when she was Edith Ascham. 
Edith Ascham likewise appeared to be dead. 
She had been courageous and beautiful — a 
smiling, free-hearted woman, loved by dumb 
animals, feared by common men. And now 
she was careful and troubled, not about 
servants, or money, and such paltry cares as 
belong to the pantry, but about the great globe 
itself, its Maker and His plans ; and these cares 
and troubles all owed their existence within 
her simply because, instead of marrying for 
true love, she had married the power and 
influence of Mr. Robert Warner. Warner, too, 
had his cares, but they were of a kind with 
which he could do battle, and find some 
increase of strength or boldness spring from 



MASSTON. I£I 

the conflict. Edith's cares, on the contrary, 
robbed her of strength, as the sweet but perni- 
cious food, which first decoys and then kills the 
victim for whom it is prepared, or the child 
who unwittingly partakes of it. 

" Edith, were you not much pleased with 
Lord Francis ? " inquired Julia, as they walked 
under the trees but without noticing them. 

" I was a little entertained by the story of his 
travels," replied her sister, in the tone of voice 
of one shivering with cold. "He is greatly 
changed, certainly." 

" For the better ? " inquired Warner, glad 
to have something to say. 

"He was always a gentleman, and full of kind- 
ness, and is so still," said Edith, speaking confi- 
dently from a very limited knowledge, and on a 
matter on which any one with a wide experience 
would have pronounced a very different verdict. 

Julia, who was walking in front of them, here 
turned suddenly round, and playfully curtsied 
to her sister for the character she had be- 



1 5 2 MASSTON. 

stowed on her friend. Both sisters had only 
known the reprobate when he was on his best 
behaviour, or in his gayest moods. They knew 
nothing of his life, his ways and manners 
among his fellows, or the nature of his connec- 
tion with the world. Warner knew nothing 
but the worst of Lord Francis, and the men- 
tion of his name a^ain brought the shadows of 
night on his face. 

" How I wish he would come back and live 
near us again," said the careless Julia. 

No response was made to the wish, and all 
walked on to the Hall as if they formed part 
of a funeral procession entering a church. 

That night, after dinner, Mr. Warner was 
the first to rise from table. " I shall not 
be in for prayers," he said to his wife as he 
rose and left the dining-room for a smaller 
room close by. 

There was something so uncommon in this, 
that his wife and her sister were compelled to 
notice and speak of it. It was the first time 



MASSTON. f 5 3 

in their married life that Mr. Warner had 
allowed the cares of business to interfere 
with the spiritual duties he exercised in his 
family. 

The small room in which Warner had shut 
himself was furnished with books. A pleas- 
anter place to sit in no heart could desire; the 
furniture made it so, as well as the mellow light 
with which it was filled. Warner was proud of 
good company. He had wrought miracles by 
it, for he made grapes to grow on thistles, 
or what in Masston was almost the same, 
he made men believe that his thistles were 
vines. Who could doubt that the husband of 
Edith Ascham, the friend of Lord Lime- 
thorpe, the master of the great Oxford Works, 
a pillar of the Church, and a magistrate, was 
a gentleman and a Christian ? Who could 
believe him to be a scoundrel and a liar ? It 
was simply incredible. And in this charming 
room, where he now sat, surrounded by the 
world's greatest, best, and wisest of men, all 



154 MASSTON. 

dressed in morocco and gold, this pink of 
impostors, made himself believe that he was 
one of them. Why not? He was familiar 
with the works of prophets and apostles, 
was included in the crlorious inheritance 
won and left by martyrs, and was a friend of 
the Most High. Thrones, principalities, and 
powers, were mere steps on which he should 
mount to immortality ; and we are not to 
wonder, therefore, that a superior being of this 
description should be able to make grow figs 
and grapes on thistles and thorns. What 
£Ood was there in bein^ intimate with the 
head of the department, if you could not use 
him for your own private ends ? 

Mr. James Reklaw, who had received the 
message of his master through the coach- 
man, duly presented himself at the Hall, 
and was received by Warner in the morocco 
chamber. 

" Sit down, Mr. Reklaw ; will you take some 
wine ? " 



MASSTON. f55 

" I should prefer brandy," was the disagree- 
able answer. 

Warner rane* the bell and ordered some 
brandy to be brought. " I have sent for you," he 
said when his ferret's needs were supplied, " to 
learn the latest news you can give me of what 
they say in the town about this awful crime." 

" They don't say much, sir," said Reklaw 
unblushingly. 

" Not much ! " cried Warner in a tone be- 
tween relief and surprise. 

" Not what I call much. Everybody knew 
that Blanchard was going to be married, and 
everybody thinks that he wanted to feather 
his nest." 

Warner rose and took two or three turns 
moodily about the purple room, pondering over 
this coincidence with his own thought. Reklaw 
followed his master's motions with cunning 
eyes. 

" Mr. Blanchard's rise at the works was 
very sudden, sir," said Reklaw, watching the 



156 MASSTON. 

effect of his words. " I have heard say that 
his visits up here at the Hall gave him high 
notions, and turned his head." 

" They say that, do they ?" observed Warner, 
sharply stopping in his walk. " What do they 
say of me ? " 

" They say that a better master never lived, 
and it will go hard with Mr. Paul Blanchard," 
answered Reklaw, feeling great comfort and 
relief and a pleasant sense of freedom. 

" I want particularly to ask you now, James," 
said Warner, " did you see Blanchard at the 
prayer-meeting ? I asked him to come, but he 
positively refused." 

"Why, sir, he stood right behind you and 
Lord Limethorpe." 

" Are you sure ? " 

" I saw him with my own eyes." 

" Did you speak with him ? " 

" No, sir ; we are not on speaking terms." 

" How is that ? " 

"He insulted me once before a lot of the 



MASSTON. I 5 7 

hands, and I have had hard work to keep order 
amongst them. Ever since that going to the 
play, there has been a spirit of insubordination 
creeping up, and I'm determined to leave the 
works. I can't stand it any longer." 

Helping himself to more brandy, he rose 
from his seat, and added, apparently in pain, 
" I would like to leave now." 

" That I shall not allow," said Warner 
haughtily. 

"You can't force me to stay," replied Reklaw 
with growing insolence; "not for twice the 
money you gave your favourite Blanchard, 
who has done more mischief in the works 
than can be undone in twenty years. Be- 
sides, I shall not only leave you, I want to 
leave this country. Australia's the place to 
make money in." 

"What would you do in Australia, Mr. 
Reklaw ? " asked Warner with a quietude that 
cowed the other's coarse insolence. 

"Well, sir," he answered, looking side- ways 



158 MASSTON. 

on the floor, " I might get some goods con- 
signed to me for sale out there." 

" Do you mean from the works ? " 

" Or from Messrs Birtles, Bright, and 
Brush," said Reklaw, still keeping his uncer- 
tain eyes on the carpet. 

" I might have known this was coming," said 
Warner to himself. But he betrayed neither sus- 
picion nor displeasure as he said to Reklaw — 

" I believe you can serve me there better 
than anywhere else." Then taking out of his 
pocket an ostentatious gold watch — a habit 
with him so great, that he frequently obeyed it 
unconsciously, he inquired, " When would you 
like to sail ? " 

Reklaw, completely abashed by Warner's 
courage and promptness, answered, " Well, sir, 
I believe I might serve you out there, and I'd 
rather serve you than any one else." 

" Then set about your preparations," said 
Warner with the decision of a chess-player 
who sees the end of the game from the move 



MASSTON. f59 

he is about to make, " for a speedy departure ; 
you will get whatever money you require. 
And now we will say Good-night." 

" Good-night, sir," responded Reklaw, offering 
his hand to Warner as if he had just returned 
from the Colonies after a loner residence there. 
Warner rang for his servant, to whom he said, ' 
after opening the door for Mr. Reklaw, " Take 
away the brandy and open the windows." Then 
so pleased did he feel with himself that, finding 
there was yet time, he went into prayers. 

Reklaw, no less pleased at getting more than 
he expected, and with so much ease, was laud- 
ing the astounding- greatness of his master, and 
trudo;inor down the lane towards Masston, 
when he found his progress marred with 
sudden roughness. 

" Ax your pardin', Mr. Reklaw," said a voice 
which he recognised ; " I must have a sove- 
reign." 

"Why should I give you a sovereign ?" re- 
plied Reklaw. 



l6o MASSTON. 

" For the same reason which obliges me to 
ax for not one but five : five's about the num- 
ber as will do for me just now." 

" Which way are you going ? " inquired Rek- 
law with assumed carelessness, but not by 
any means liking the insolence of the young 
rough. 

" I'm not a goin' anywhere just yet, leastwise 
till I eret them five couters." 

" You will get five knuckles, if you don't 
clear out." 

On this the Masstonite said in a whining 
voice, " Leastwise, you will give me two and a 
an. 

" I will give you one now," said Reklaw, 
" and you can come to my house to-morrow. 
I've something particular to say, and may do 
you a good turn you little expect." 

" I'd rather 'av another sovereign now," said 
the rough complainingly. 

" You'll get it to-morrow, I say," answered 
Mr. Reklaw, who hurried away, followed at a 



MASSTON. Ibl 

distance by one for whom he knew he must 
perforce provide. 

Mr. Reklaw went to bed in a somewhat per- 
turbed frame of mind. He would liked to have 
poisoned the Masston rough, but not being 
equal to murder, resolved on an act of kid- 
napping. 

On the other hand, the last thing Warner 
was heard to utter that evening, was the ques- 
tion, whether he should ask Lord Francis to 
dinner the next day. 

Julia, to whom the query was addressed in a 
smooth voice and a manner quite changed, 
resenting the evident unhappiness of her sister, 
gave no encouraging answer to a question that 
was designed to give her pleasure. 



VOL. II. 



( ««* ) 



CHAPTER IX. 

" I beseech you let his lack of years be no impediment to let him 
lack a reverend estimation ; for I never knew so young a body with so 
old a head. I leave him to your gracious acceptance, whose trial shall 
better publish his commendation." — Merchant of Venue, iv. i. 

Reklaw had wilfully misstated the facts when 
he told Mr. Warner that not much was said in 
Masston reofardinor the theft of Lord Lime- 
thorpe's pocket-book. Much was said, and 
more was done. The disbelief in Paul Blan- 
chard's guilt was general, and was delivered 
from many mouths in the highways and by- 
ways of the town. Dr. Cumberladge and 
Jeavons had given bail for him at once, and 
this fact would have added, if any addition 
were needed, to the popular trust in his inno- 
cence. 

" I suppose," said, soon after Blanchard's 



MASSTON. 163 

arrest, a little old man, whose white linen was 
his wife's pride, " that this will be a matter for 
the 'sizes, — that means lawyers with wigs on 
and gowns, and money in their pockets, which, 
say I, we shall pay." 

" It means nothing but that," said many 
others around him. 

Tappit, the striker of anvils, struck out the 
same idea in the Pudding Bag. 

" This means sending round the hat," said, 
in another place, the little wizened man, who 
had once been, addressed by Paul as Zacchseus. 
And at Jeavons' shop a crowd collected, made 
up of people desirous of contributing whatever 
they could to the expenses of procuring the 
best lawyer that might be had for love or 
money, or both, to defend Paul. 

This caused uncommon happiness to Jeavons, 
who had been the means of so training these 
applicants in saving their money, that they had 
money to give away. 

While Jeavons was counting up by himself 



164 MASSTON. 

the amount of promised subscriptions, there 
came into his shop a man whom he had often 
seen looking in at his window, but had never 
spoken with. 

" Good morning, sir," said the visitor, whose 
manner betokened unbounded confidence in 
the provision dealer. " I should be glad 
to know on what principles you carry on 
this business of yours. I am told that you 
make a profit for the people who buy your 
goods. Is that so ?" 

" That is so." 

" Do not think me rude if I ask you, how 
much have you paid in profits to your customers 
in a year ? " 

" I expect to pay," replied Jeavons, "at the 
end of the year, more than thirty shillings to 
five hundred people." 

" May I take a seat ? " said the visitor with 
open eyes. " This interests me much, and 
many friends of mine." 

"By all means," said Jeavons, "but my 



MASSTON. 165 

time is very short. I am in great trouble on 
account of a friend of mine." 

" Anything- to do with law ? " asked the other 
briskly. 

" With nothing else," replied Jeavons. 

" Does it arise out of the shop ? " 

" No ; but it is connected with the founder 
of the shop, who will be tried at the coming 
assizes for a crime which he never committed." 

" How do you know that ? " 

"Just as well as I know I didn't do it 
myself," replied Jeavons becoming excited ; 
" and look here at this list of the working 
people who have subscribed for his defence. 
It was he who started in them my ideas." 

" Very interesting," said the other, whose 
attention was now diverted from the shop to 
the subject of Jeavons' excitement. Jeavons, 
encouraged by the other's interest, gave him, 
as briefly as he could, Paul's story. When it 
was finished, his visitor, after a short silence, 
said, " Got a counsel ? " 



1 66 MASSTON. 

" Not yet." 

" I can find you one." 

" Do you know him well ? " 

" Known him from a boy ; and a better 
man or a better lawyer I don't know. He's 
young — so much the better for you — he'll 
go heart and soul into the work. There's 
his address, make your attorney write to him 
at once. And now," he went on, " you 
would probably like to know something about 
me. 

" You evidently know," replied Jeavons, 
" something about me and my shop. I did not 
know that my scheme had aroused attention 
in any one outside of Masston. I am not sur- 
prised, but I should be glad to learn that 
others were taking it up." 

" The young barrister I was talking of," 
said the other, " has bothered me about some- 
thing of the same kind, till I lost patience. 
Now I see how it works, I have more confi- 
dence in him than ever." 



MASSTON. 167 

" Does he think of the working people ? " 
inquired Jeavons. 

" I can't get him to think of anything else," 
replied the other. 

" Then," said Jeavons, " he should be the 
man to defend Paul Blanchard." 

" Glad you think so. My name is Birtles. 
When I picked up this youngster I was well 
off. He had run away from this town of 
Masston." 

" How long ago might that be ? " asked 
Jeavons. 

" A matter of fifteen years or more." 

"Why, I ran away from Masston myself!" 
said Jeavons. 

" Where did you go to ? " 

" I didn't leave the town." 

Birtles, passing unnoticed for a moment the 
strangeness of this answer, said, " I have never 
known why that boy ran away. When I 
picked him up he was in great distress ; but 
he had evidently been well cared for. To cut 



l68 MASSTON. 

a long story short, his appearance struck me, 
and I said to him — I was driving my trap 
and saw him toiling footsore alon^ the road — 
' Where are you going ? ' " 

" ' I am going to get my own living,' said 
he, and somehow the little chap looked as if 
he meant it. I could have laughed, but he 
was so proud and so serious that I could only 
say 'Jump up and let me take you as far as 
you're going.' Well, I found the little beggar 
was going nowhere, and I resolved pretty 
soon to help him somewhere. You know, Mrs. 
Birtles has never had any children, and I was 
quite sure she'd take as kindly to this little 
fellow as I did. Wonderful woman, Mrs. 
Birtles ! She'd often chivied me for taking too 
much to people that I did'nt know, but as for 
this boy, she took to him even more than I 
did." 

" Then you adopted him ? " said Jeavons. 

" I'm quite sure," said Birtles with a hesi- 
tancy foreign to his character, "that you will 



MASSTON. f69 

come to know him, he will make you know 
him ; and you can then ask him for the rest of 
his story. All I need tell you is that he's a 
very clever fellow, and his name is Hugh 
Arden." 

" Hugh Arden ? " said Jeavons musingly, 
" that's not a Masston name." 

" No," replied Birtles, " I suppose not." 
" Do you know anything more about him ? " 
" All I know would take too long to tell just 
now. My wife insisted at first on my taking 
the boy back to his home, but when I made 
this known to him one morning at breakfast- 
time, he got up from the table just as if he 
had been an old one, went quietly out of the 
room, and left the house without anybody 
knowing it. When I found he was gone, I 
went after him, and I caught my young gentle- 
man just making his way to one of the ships 
alongside the quay." Here Birtles gave a 
good-humoured chuckle. " I believe," said he, 
" that boy only consented to come back be- 



I 70 MASSTON. 

cause he saw I'd come after him without a 
hat. Fancy one of the three B.s — Bright, 
Birtles, and Brush, you know — going hatless 
through Bri stol ! The end of it was we jumped 
into a hackney and went back to breakfast. 
After that for fear of losing him, we never 
asked him any more questions." 

" This was very kind of you," said Jeavons. 

" I have had my reward," replied the other. 

"You say he is a barrister?" went on Jeavons. 

" Yes," said Birtles, " he is, and doing well, 
though he's young at it. The worst of it is, 
now I come to think of it, that you can't get 
my man to defend your friend without great 
expense." 

"In what way ?" asked Jeavons. 

Birtles, without appearing to hear the ques- 
tion, said, in his sudden way, " I'll see you to- 
night ; will you be here to-night ? " 

"If you like. I shall be very glad to see 
you here again," said Jeavons with a slight 
tone of disappointment. 



MASSTON. I f I 

" Very well, my friend, come and dine with 
me at the Green Dragon. I have an idea 
which I will explain. I am delighted. We 
shall do something. I have never asked a 
favour of any man yet, but the favour I am 
going to ask will not be refused. Good-bye 
now — come at six — do me the favour — I shall 
have something to tell you." Birtles then left 
Jeavons standing in his shop and straightway 
directed his steps to the Oxford Works. 

Birtles was a man who could only hold one 
idea at a time, but that one he held fast. 
Pursuing the notion which now possessed him, 
he entered the great works and asked, with a 
determined air, for Mr. Warner. 

" What name, sir ? " said the clerk in attend- 
ance. 

"Tell him I must see him," answered Birtles. 

" Mr. Warner will not see you, sir, unless 
you give him your name," said the clerk. 

" He will — he will be o-lad to see me. Tell 
him I say so." 



I 7 2 MASSTON. 

The clerk disappeared, moved by Birtles' 
earnestness to an errand he had never before 
undertaken. Mr. Warner also must have been 
impressed by the clerk's message, for he con- 
descended to appear in the doorway of his 
room. 

"Morning, sir; morning, Mr. Warner," cried 
Birtles in a glad assuring voice, raising his 
hat and advancing towards the master of the 
Oxford Works. 

So cheerful and straightforward was Birtles 
that Warner had no time for presentiment or 
self-accusations, and the two merchants found 
themselves together m Warner's room on a 
footing of undoubted friendliness. 

" I have come to ask a favour, Mr. Warner," 
Birtles began. " Glad to see that things are 
flourishing with you, sir ; the three B.s are not 
flourishing, but that's their own fault." 

Warner, who had been listening with some 
interest, bowed interrogatively and exchanged 
a troubled look for a smile of sympathy. 



MASSTON. I J $ 

"Yes, their own fault," went on Birtles. " That 
Australian speculation was disastrous, we were 
tripped up, sir; we were too sharp ; we thought 
we knew everything, and there was somebody 
knew better than we did, and forestalled the 
market. Ah ! you were too wise, Mr. Warner, 
to put all your eggs in one basket. But I 
didn't come to talk about that." 

Warner could do no less than offer, in his 
most plausible manner, to give every help he 
could in any way to one to whom he owed 
much. 

" That's handsome," said Birtles. 

To this proposition Warner bowed a grati- 
fied assent which, with all his cunning, he 
could not persuade himself to feel. 

" I must beg your pardon," said Birtles, "for 
running away, when I called to see you some 
time ago. But the fact is, that you looked so 
good and kind I was really afraid you'd make 
some tempting business offer that I couldn't 
resist. So, sir, I ran away from you. The 



1 74 MASSTON. 

truth is, since that Australian business, we've 
had hard work to make our way up again." 

" It would have been an honour to me," said 
Warner, rinding a somewhat faltering voice, 
which to Birtles seemed charged with good 
feeling, "to have given you any accommoda- 
tion." 

"Ah ! that's just what I told my wife. I 
knew you'd be ready to do that. I told her 
so. But she made me promise not to run into 
any risk we couldn't discharge at once ; and, 
thank God ! that woman has brought the 
three B.s straight again." 

Warner, with a shade of anxiety still in his 
voice, said — 

" Your visit, if I understand you aright, is 
not on business ? " 

" Not at all. No, I came to ask a favour for 
a man I've never seen ; and it's not quite that 
either. There's a man you've employed named 
Blanchard." 

Warner could not help starting. The sudden 



MASSTON. I75 

conjunction of these two men, Birtles and 
Blanchard, both of whom he had unscrupulously 
used as his instruments, produced on him an 
equally sudden shock. 

" My chief designer was named Blanchard," 
said Warner, quickly recovering himself. 

" Do you think him guilty ? " 

" I would give much to prove him inno- 
cent." 

" I can do it — with your help," rejoined 
Birtles. 

" How can I help you ? what have you 
heard ? " cried Warner eagerly. 

"That's just it," said Birtles. "I've heard 
that none of the workpeople believe him guilty, 
no more do you. Now then, I know a young 
lawyer, adopted son of my own in fact, mad 
about working-men, he's the man to defend 
Blanchard. But he's on another circuit ; you 
know what that means. Now you've offered 
me accommodation, give it me in this way. 
Save these working men's shillings that they're 



1 J 6 MASSTON. 

subscribing, and help me to retain this young 
man for Blanchard's defence." 

" Would it serve you ? " asked Warner cheer- 
fully. 

"It would help me. I know something of 
workmen, and know what your workmen will 
think of you when they learn, as they shall, who 
pays the shot." And perhaps for the first time 
since his last appearance in that room Birtles 
indulged in a hearty wink. 

" This seems almost providential," said War- 
ner, with great deliberation. " I had thought 
how I could help my poor friend Blanchard — 
and saw no way. Under the circumstances, 
my name could not appear in a subscription list 
for his defence, and he is too proud to accept 
any private assistance directly from me. You 
have saved me from a great embarrassment. 
Your intervention," said he, with a sudden 
shake of Birtles' hand, " anticipates all my 
difficulties. I will write you a cheque at once." 

" No, no," exclaimed Birtles, as he took the 



MASSTON. 177 

cheque, " this is too much." And in his sudden 
manner, which Warner well remembered, he 
tore up the cheque and said, dropping into a 
chair, " We can't want more, first and last, than 
three hundred pounds." 

Warner wrote a new cheque, and thus it 
happened that the expense of Paul Blanchard's 
defence by Hugh Arden was provided by the 
master of the Oxford Works. 



vol. 11. m 



( -78 ) 



CHAPTER X. 

" What light the study of the inferior animals is capable of throwing 
upon the higher qualities of man ! " — Darwin. 

Warner came home after his interview with 
Birtles in a mood which was almost jubilant. 
As he got out of his carriage he met Edith, 
who was going out to cut flowers in the garden. 

" You are early," she said. 

"As I intended to be. Is any one coming 
to dinner ? " 

" I did invite Lord Francis, but he has left 
Masston." 

" Yes," said Warner abstractedly. " Did 
you ask any one else ? " 

" I asked Mr. Sweetapple and his mother." 

"Then I am the more glad that I returned 
early." 

Warner, bent on pleasing his wife in a 



MASSTON. 1 79 

matter which gave him little trouble, said, 
taking her flower-basket and orivino- her his 
arm, an attention which was almost strange to 
her, " Let us find the best flowers we can. 
You have never used your Venetian glasses," 
he said, as they walked down a path loaded 
with foliage to the rose-beds. 

" Mr. Sweetapple," replied Edith, " whom 
you know has a fine taste, admired them 
much when he saw them the other day." 

" When they are filled with yellow and red 
roses," said Warner, " he will like them yet 
more." 

And leaving Edith on an elaborate bench, 
he disported himself in a vigorous slaughter 
of the roses. Edith, as she watched him, saw 
an exuberance of power in his attitude, that 
fitted the belief in him in which she had lately 
been somewhat shaken. 

" I think," said Warner, bringing the roses 
to her, " that now all you want upon the table 
is a pair of Julia's birds." 



I So MASSTON. 

" Do not snap the scissors in that barbarous 
way," said Edith. " But listen to me. Let 
Mr. Sweetapple sit next to Julia, and leave 
them alone as much as you can. I will amuse 
Mrs. Sweetapple." 

" Then I shall go to sleep," said Warner in 
a tone of protest. And though Edith did not 
heed it, he meant what he said. 

" Don't you like Mrs. Sweetapple ? " asked 
Edith with wide eyes. 

" I should like her better if she were not so 
Frenchified," said Warner. 

" I think it's just for that I do like her," 
replied Edith, in a tone that invited a pleasant 
response. 

" Does she remind you of Lord Francis ? " 
asked Warner with some tartness. 

" Quite different. Lord Francis is a man of 
pleasure and fashion. Mrs. Sweetapple is very 
natural, and I think quite good. She is so 
fond of her son ; and, you see, has an evident 
regard for his holy mission." 



MASSTON. i8l 

"No doubt she is a very delightful woman," 
said Warner. " What do you mean to do about 
her son and Julia ? " 

" I have thought much of that," said Edith, 
" and I think we should act for Julia's good. 
I shall not press her, but shall try to guide 
her." 

" I remember what you said some time ago," 
answered Warner solemnly. " You will do 
well." 

Upon this they returned to the house. 
Warner thought he had never seen Julia look 
so beautiful as she was when she came down 
to the drawingf-room. 

" Mr. Sweetapple is to be here to-night," said 
Warner, "with his mother. She is a nice old 
lady." 

" Very !" said Julia. " I like her very much. 
I would like her for a mother." 

" Then you like her son ? " 

" No ; that is exactly what I do not like." 

" This is very unreasonable." 



1 82 MASSTON. 

" No ; I like Mrs. Sweetapple just as I like 
Dodo my parrot ; she is so amusing." 

" Do you like people as they resemble your 
birds ? " 

" Yes ; do you know I think I do." 

" Am I one of your birds ? " asked Warner, 
with a confiding air. 

" Oh ! you gave me the cage." 

Warner at another time might have taken 
offence at this light speech ; but the face of the 
whole world had changed to him in a day, and 
he felt such confidence in his lucky star, that he 
was ready to think everything designed for his 
pleasure. 

" Can't you let me be a bird ? " he asked. 
"Where will you place me ?" 

" What would you like to be ? " 

While Warner, unused to light talk, was 
searching for an answer, the Sweetapples were 
announced, and Warner became occupied in 
speculating which of Julia's birds most resem- 
bled the youthful parson. As he shook hands 



MASSTON. 1^3 

with Mrs. Sweetapple, who came into the room 
with an air of freshness scarcely less than Julia's, 
he would have given much to point out to Julia 
the resemblance between Mrs. Sweetapple and 
the Javanese sparrow. 

" Do you know, dear," said Mrs. Sweetapple 
to Julia, " I cannot figure it in my head how 
your birds have taken possession of me ?" 

" Take care, mother," said Mr. Sweetapple, 
indulging himself in a joke which he thought a 
little daring; " possession is a serious thing." 

" I cannot help it. My dear Miss Ascham's 
parrot may be a diable. I hope he is not, for I 
hear him talking constantly." 

Edith at this moment came into the room, 
and, making apology for her lateness, said, 
" Has Julia's parrot become the little bird that 
tells secrets ? " 

" No," said Julia decidedly ; " the only secrets 
he knows are those I tell him." 

" Now those are the dear little secrets I would 
best like to know," said Mrs. Sweetapple. 



I84 MASSTON. 

" I wonder if he was revealing a secret to 
me the other day," said her son. 

" He had better have kept it to himself," 
replied his mother. " But one cannot doubt 
that he has bitten you too, Miss Ascham ; 
and I am convinced he would bite me if 
he could ; he is a malicious fellow, depend 
upon it. Why do I think so much about 
him ? I suppose it is because he is so like 
a man, and all men bite if you let them. If 
you can keep them in order, then they are 
very good." 

" Some men are given to biting," said 
Warner, with a smile that showed his teeth. 

" The men who do not bite," said Mrs. 
Sweetapple, "are those whose mouths are con- 
stantly stopped with bonbons. If I had now 
to manage a man — I do not count my son, he 
is very gentle — the first thing I would say to 
him would be" 

" Dinner is ready, if you please, sir," said the 
butler, appearing just in time to fill up the 



MASSTON. 185 

little woman's sentence. The party went in to 
dinner with every appearance of good-humour, 
Edith, who by Lord Francis' absence was left 
to go in alone, seeming to follow Sweetapple 
and Julia like a guardian angel. Julia was the 
first to notice her sister's arrangement of the 
flowers. 

" Yes," said Mrs. Sweetapple. " Now I 
should like to ask Mrs. Warner if she did not 
think more of herself than the flowers, when she 
was arranging them. I remember at Baden- 
Baden a little flower-girl, who was so bright 
and joyous over her bouquets, one could not 
help thinking she had made the flowers." 

" Do you know, Mrs Sweetapple," said Edith, 
" I did feel very proud for these flowers ? and 
I shall certainly ask Mr. Gadso if there is not 
some danger in giving way to tastes and feel- 
ings of this kind." 

" I can tell you better than Gadso that there 
is great danger if you don't take care," said 
Mrs. Sweetapple. " I know some of those 



1 86 MASSTON. 

insolent fellows at the Louvre — who stand 
there like watch- dogs — have got, by seeing 
always the pictures, to think that they arc 
artists, while they are really so many dusters 
to keep the dirt away." 

Julia, with much mirth, answered that she 
was no better herself, " For I have never met 
Mrs. Sweetapple," she said, " without feeling 
myself a great deal better than I know I am." 

" This is a pack of nonsense, my dear," cried 
Mrs. Sweetapple ; " there is no danger in that 
— let us bring the dear flowers to our tables, 
wear them in our hair, or stick them in our 
buttonholes, for their own sakes, and not for 
ours, and we shall never go wrong." 

" Do you not think, Miss Ascham," said 
Sweetapple, bending in a lily-like way towards 
Julia, " that there is something significant of 
character in the love of flowers ? " 

" No," said she ; " I can't understand any one 
being without it." 

" I think," said Edith, " I have the key to all 



MASSTON. "187 

this. If the old Earth could speak, would it 
not say, ' This is my Master's livery '—we too 
can wear it in His service — that is what Mr. 
Sweetapple means, I think." 

" Ah, bah ! you got that from Gadso. I 
believe le bon Dieu gave us these pretty things 
just to please us, and nothing else." 

" My mother," said Mr. Sweetapple to Julia, 
"only thinks of what she says two days after 
she has said it, and this delightful talk will be 
a pleasure to her for more than a week to 
come. It will last me a much longer time." 

" I have forgotten it already," said Julia. 

" And yet," said Warner in his gentlest 
voice, " I still hear you talking of your great 
actor." 

" That is a thing to last for ever," she 
answered. 

Mr. Sweetapple looked perturbed, as he had 
prepared other little speeches on the same sub- 
ject which Julia's remark destroyed. 

Here Edith rose, took a flower from one of 



I SS MASSTON. 

the pretty glasses, gave it to her husband as 
she was leaving the room, and said, " Wear 
this for me." 

Mr. Sweetapple looked as if he would have 
liked to have received a similar commission, 
but Julia walked out of the room with Mrs. 
Sweetapple on her arm, leaving not even a 
look behind her. She was made perfectly 
happy for the rest of the evening by seeing 
what she conceived to be a little love passage 
between Edith and her husband. 

Warner, in talking to Mr. Sweetapple, found 
himself compelled into a worse bargain than 
he was accustomed to make. Upon the capital 
of words and wine which he expended, he 
got but a poor return. Mr. Sweetapple was 
depressed, and Warner's thoughts took a 
flight to another region than that of the young 
curate's love. He was listening to the favour 
begged by Birtles, he was watching the flight 
of Lord Francis from Masston, he was sorrow- 
ing for Paul Blanchard, and, finally, felt proud 



MASSTON. 1 89 

that he could do justice, whilst he loved 
mercy. 

" Shall we go into the other room now ? " he 
said to Mr. Sweetapple, who was only too 
willing- to act on the suo-oestion. 

As they were passing from one room to 
another, there came a loud and sudden knock- 
ing at the Hall door, so loud that it startled 
the whole house, and so sudden that Warner 
halted to hear what it might mean. 

Mr. Sweetapple had now joined the ladies, 
the Hall door opened, and Warner caught a 
voice he knew too well. In answer to the 
inquiry if Mr. Warner was at home, Warner 
went forward and presented himself. 

" How do you do ? pray come in," said the 
master of the Oxford Works to his heaviest 
creditor. 

This was the distinguished Friend, who had 
given his co-operation to Edith in securing 
the union of the religious sects, and his capital 
to Warner to invest in commerce. 



1 90 MASSTON. 

Lord Francis Elbston, before returning to 
Paris, had gone direct to the distinguished 
Quaker, who lived in one of the magnificent 
palaces erected on the Elbston estate, to obtain 
such information as he was able, regarding the 
value of the land, and the amount of rent and 
such other items of knowledge as might prove 
of value. He knew that what the Quaker 
would tell him would be true, he could 
approach a Quaker more easily than any- 
other person equally strange to him ; and 
Lord Francis further judged that Warner 
having but little private intercourse with 
Quakers, his visit would remain unnoticed. 
This was the only mistake Lord Francis made. 
The Quaker promptly determined upon seeing 
Friend Warner after his interview with the aris- 
tocratic profligate. It was necessary to have 
a clear understanding on a matter which was 
too much surrounded by clouds. He had the 
Greatest confidence in Warner ; but certain 
questions put by Lord Francis seemed so 



MASSTON. 1 9 I 

strange to him, that he felt it was only his 
duty to satisfy the suspicions which he could 
not smother. 

" There is nothing in all this," said Warner, 
after hearing the Friend. " Would you like to 
take your money out of the Elbston estate ? " 

" Not if thou givest me thy word that it is 
safe." 

" I will give you either my word or the 
money," replied Warner, " whichever you 
prefer." 

" Then there is nothing to fear from this 
relative of the man called Lord Limethorpe ? " 
asked the Friend. 

" There is no fear," said Warner, placing 
his hand on his breast, and calmly waiting for 
whatever surprise might yet be in store for 
him. 

" I am satisfied," said the Quaker, " but I 
will see thee to-morrow. Good-ni^ht, friend." 

"Will you not come in ? " 

" I have already told thee no." The Quaker 



192 MASSTON. 

went on his way, leaving with Warner a 
crowd of anxieties, fears, and suspicions such 
as had never assailed him before. He became 
now fully and unmistakably aware that Lord 
Francis had, as he suspected, returned to 
Masston to claim a sum of money which was 
owed to him and could not possibly be paid 
by the debtor. Warner had, in fact, so used 
this money that none of it could be called in : 
and his generous offer to the Friend was made 
in the confident hope that it would not be 
accepted. The Master of the Oxford Works 
had trusted overmuch to two probabilities — the 
one that Lord Francis would not dare to re- 
turn to Masston, the other that in his idle Paris 
life no report of Warner's actual proceedings 
could reach him, and that as long as his pro- 
fligateship received enough money to procure 
his daily pleasures he would be content to 
remain his agent's pensioner. But Warner's 
fame was not now confined to Masston or the 
English seaports. Lord Francis had heard 



MASSTON. 193 

from a travelling acquaintance such dazzling, 
and indeed such exaggerated, accounts of the 
great merchant's wealth, that he at once sus- 
pected he was being cheated, as indeed he was. 
Warner had not only kept in his own posses- 
sion the results of a successful speculation upon 
which he entered as agent ; he had, moreover, 
used them for further speculations of his own. 
Indeed the greater part of the profits on the 
Elbston estate was sunk in the Oxford Works. 

And now Lord Francis had come to claim his 
own. What he had seen for himself, and what 
he had learnt from the Quaker, proved to him 
that he could at any moment descend upon 
Masston, and take to himself the great wealth 
which Warner had drawn from it. With the 
dread of this moment possessing him, Warner 
went back into the drawing-room to find his 
innocent frends en^a^ed in dethroning em- 
pires more vast than his, by burying their 
cities in couplets from the poets. 

They were all laughing at their own difficul- 

VOL. II. N 



194 MASSTON. 

ties in discovering a well-known town in the 
lines given by Julia. 

" What are you all laughing at ? " asked 
Warner in great need himself of mirth. 

And Mrs. Sweetapple, in most tragic tones, 
recited — 

" ' My May of life, 
Is fallen into the sere and yellow leaf.' 

Can you find a town in that ? " 

Warner could make nothing out of the 
question, but the lines struck him with a sin- 
gular force. Mrs. Sweetapple, perceiving his 
perplexity, exclaimed, " I see you do not know 
the orame." 

" I fear I cannot learn it now," said Warner ; 
" is it not time for prayers ?" 



( '95 ) 



CHAPTER XI. 

" Duke. Give me your hand. Came you from old Bellario ? 

Por. I did, my lord. 

Duke. You are welcome : take your place. 
Are you acquainted with the difference 
That holds this present question in the court ? 

Por. I am informed throughly of the cause." 

— Merchant of Venice, iv. i. 

At nine o'clock on one of those August morn- 
ings, which appeared to cling with a loving 
embrace to Baston Hall and its fair gardens, 
the blast of a trumpet was heard in the market- 
place of Masston outside the Court-house. The 
windows of the little old houses hard by were 
shaken by it, and many hearts were made to 
tremble. 

It might be idle to inquire why the blast of 
brass has always been thought symbolical of jus- 
tice; but there is no doubt that to some natures 



I96 MASSTON. 

justice is the same thing as terror, and of such 
natures there were many in Masston. On this 
August morning, the only people utterly 
superior to the fear of the law were the little 
children who gambolled round the terrible 
trumpeter, and laughed with bewildered 
delight at the appearance of the young men, 
with grey hair and black petticoats, who stood 
in groups about the door of the Court. One 
little wretch, hardened in crime, pointing out 
the yellow trousers of one of the seniors of the 
bar, distilled wonderment among the rest of 
his tribe, and for the moment put an end to 
their frolics. In the centre of the market-place 
was a large crowd of dwarfed men with anxious 
faces, dressed in their Sunday clothes, who 
waited eagerly to observe the aspect of the 
Judge who was to try their friend. Presently, 
amid all the pomp which in those days belonged 
to a judge, the Sheriffs carriage rolled up, and 
from it descended a tall old man robed in 
scarlet, whose face was as inscrutable as the 



MASSTON. I 9 7 

pale sky which hung above them all. He 
passed in, and a pushing crowd followed him. 

The bench was filled with well-known Mass- 
ton faces. Mr. and Mrs. Warner, Mr. and 
Mrs. Gadso, Dr. Cumberladge, and many 
others were there. Julia had stayed at home, 
saying that she did not want to hear proved 
what she already knew, that Paul was innocent. 
Sarah also for this, and other reasons, had 
stayed away ; but the knowledge of her belief 
in him was better to the accused man than 
her presence could have been. Benjamin 
Jeavons stood near the dock, and Birtles found 
a place among the counsel. Lord Limethorpe, 
looking very old, sat on the right of the bench. 
The grand jury had been sworn by the judge's 
marshal, had found two or three true bills, 
among them one against Paul Blanchard, 
and the moment for his appearance had come. 
He was brought into the dock, where he 
stood fresh and upright as if he stood by a 
river's side, rather than at a bar of justice. 



I98 MASSTON. 

Edith found herself regarding him with 
marked attention. Dr. Cumberladge smiled 
at him meaningly. Warner's eyes were fixed, 
with an attention that had never wavered since 
he first came in, on the prisoner's counsel, who 
at that moment leant across the table for a pen, 
and by the action attracted also the eyes of Dr. 
Cumberladge, who started like a man waking 
from a dream. The prisoner, in a gentle voice, 
delivered his plea of Not Guilty ; the usual 
forms were gone through, and the trial began. 
Serjeant Lawlud, with whom were Messrs. 
Papcook and Pawkins, proceeded to inform his 
lordship and the gentlemen of the jury that 
this was a very simple case, as no doubt it 
was. What Serjeant Lawlud also said, but 
should not, because it had no connection with 
the issue to be tried, related to the growth 
of an evil spirit among the labouring classes, 
which manifested itself in acts of insubordina- 
tion and other acts, which clearly indicated a 
determination to brave all the laws of society 



MASSTON. 199 

in asserting their supposed rights, or righting 
their supposed wrongs. The prisoner at the 
bar, continued the learned Serjeant, bore, it 
appears, an excellent character up to the day 
when, as it will be shown, he committed the 
crime for which he was now to be tried. He 
occupied an important position in the great 
works where he was employed, and received a 
very large and handsome salary. It, however, 
will be shown to you, gentlemen of the jury, 
that the prisoner was connected with a new 
trading concern, which had grown so rapidly 
that, in order still to increase its growth, or to 
provide for pressing needs which overtook him 
and his friends in connection with it, he was 
tempted into the crime which was so speedily 
brought home to him. It will also be shown 
you that the prisoner was on the eve of marry- 
ing into a family far above him in station, and 
over and above these motives for helping him- 
self to other people's property, he was trusted 
by his master most implicitly, and had at the 



200 MASSTON. 

same time every opportunity of going into all 
the rooms of the works at all hours whenever 
it suited him ; he had, in short, unbounded 
liberty to do as he pleased ; and his master 
placed in him that unbounded confidence with- 
out which the prisoner could not have hoped 
to carry out his evil design. 

These were some of the things which the 
learned Serjeant should not have said. But 
the case was so simple, the audience of such a 
superior order, and the Serjeant himself in such 
capital spirits, that it was only natural for him 
to give as much importance to the trial as he 
could. Serjeant Lawlud reserved his descrip- 
tion of the prayer-meeting at the Oxford 
Works, when the prisoner committed his atro- 
cious offence, for the close of his address. It 
was sad, said the orator, to think that it was at 
the solemn moment when all were bowed in the 
holy service of prayer that the prisoner had 
committed the unhappy deed for which he was 
now to be tried, and if the jury, bringing their 



MASSTON. 20 1 

undoubted intelligence to bear upon the facts 
presented to them, could possibly find any other 
explanation than that that crime was committed 
by the prisoner he should be no less relieved 
than surprised. 

" Mr. Robert Warner." 

It was as good as a play to be in Court that 
morning, as indeed it almost always is, though 
more especially, when on a day like this, 
counsel were encouraged by the presence in 
Court of many handsome men and fair women. 
At the close of the learned Serjeant's im- 
pressive words, the learned Judge, with the 
same inscrutable face as when he descended 
from his carriage, was occupied in writing a 
note. The galleries of the Court, filled with the 
working people of Masston, all friends of Paul, 
were in what they themselves called an in- 
fernal stew. The severe aspect of the Judge 
and the eloquence of the Serjeant took them 
captive. Not an eye turned to meet the look 
which Blanchard cast at them ; they could only 



202 MASSTON. 

look at the awful Judge who was writing a 
playful note to his daughter, while they thought 
he was taking down the accusing words of the 
terrible Serjeant. 

The prisoner's counsel, who appeared to be 
occupied in admiring a metallic pen, which, till 
then he had never seen, and was, in reality, 
debating with himself the style and manner of 
Serjeant Lawlud, was an object of intense and 
increasing interest to some of the occupiers of 
the bench. Warner was occupied with himself. 
Birtles was occupied with scrutinizing now the 
face of Paul and now the steady calmness of 
him who was to defend him. Birtles was 
anxious but did not fidget. Lord Limethorpe 
was the only person in the whole Court who 
seemed to have nothing to do, a demeanour 
which some of the younger men in horse-hair 
could well have imitated, but dared not ; it was 
better to read a newspaper than do nothing. 

Mr. Warner gave his evidence in good form, 
and his expressions of sorrow for the prisoner 



MASSTON. 203 

appeared to be genuine. The Serjeant con- 
cluded a long examination, which in part cor- 
roborated his opening speech ; and then sat 
down. The witness remained for a moment in 
the box, appearing to invite cross-examination ; 
he was about to leave it, and had already 
turned his back on the counsel, when Mr. 
Hugh Arden (with whom was Mr. Blackston 
Goodlad) rose, and raised his finger as if to 
ask a trifling question. 

" Mr. Warner ! " he said, on which Warner 
turned suddenly round as if he had heard his 
own voice, " did you see the prisoner in your 
room on the morning when this prayer-meeting 
was held ? " 

" I did not." 

" If he had been there you must have seen 
him ? " 

" I think so." 

" Now, did you at all see Lord Limethorpe's 
pocket-book during the meeting ? " 

" I did not." 



204 MASSTON. 

" You were, I believe, much astonished when 
Lord Limethorpe returned to your room in 
search of his missing property." 

" I was greatly astonished." 

" You said, I think, that the meeting broke 
up in a little haste, owing to some slight 
accident ? " 

" I have said so — for so it was." 

" And there was, perhaps, a little hurry or 
confusion ? " 

" No doubt that was the case." 

" Can you tell us, Mr. Warner, if your clerk, 
Reklaw, was present at the prayer-meeting ? " 

" He certainly was." 

"Very well," said Mr. Hugh Arden in a 
tone of voice which seemed to imply that it 
was very ill for some one. 

He resumed his seat with a thoughtful air ; 
the witness once more prepared to go away, 
when — 

" One moment," called out the youthful 
barrister, as he again rose. " I might as well 



MASSTON. 205 

ask you — you were not present when the 
pocket-book was found ? " 

" I was not." 

" Very well." 

The manner of the cross-examination won 
the attention of some members of the bar ; even 
the Judge was observed very slightly to incline 
his head on one side to his " brother Lawlud " 
as the prisoner's counsel sat down. 

The last question, the voice, raised to its 
best quality in the words "one moment/' sent 
a thrill of wonder and amazement through 
Edith Warner. It was the voice of her be- 
loved, the sound of mastery, the pitch of com- 
mand, the tone of love. To her, the filthy, 
dust-defiled Court became as if by magic 
changed into a temple, beneath whose roof her 
youth, with its high hope and purpose, its 
happiness and joy, was restored to her. She 
looked at the young face of the speaker, sur- 
rounded as it was with the mere trappings and 
mask of age, and fancied that heaven had once 



206 MASSTON. 

given her such a face to worship and to love. 
She watched every movement of his hands 
with as keen a delight as her ear received the 
sounds of his voice which grew in volume, 
depth, and sweetness. 

Then Lord Limethorpe gave his testimony, 
and Edith's pleasure was increased by the 
simple gesture with which the youthful counsel 
signified that he would not cross-examine his 
lordship. 

The case was complete. Two of Mr. 
Warner's clerks testified to finding Lord Lime- 
thorpe's pocket-book in the pocket of the 
prisoner's coat, exactly as Serjeant Lawlud had 
stated, and the learned Serjeant declared, on the 
close of this testimony, that that was his case in 
a solemn tone which shewed how much it pained 
him to have been so successful in proving it. 

" May it please your lordship and gentle- 
men of the jury," began Mr. Hugh Arden, 
and again Edith Warner felt the deep, tender, 
but firm voice of the speaker search every 



MASSTON. 267 

thought of her heart and pierce it. She trem- 
bled, she grew faint, and rose to leave the 
Court. Dr. Cumberladge, but barely able to 
control his own feelings, saw the lady's embar- 
rassment, and gave her his hand to help her. 
But for this firm and timely support she must 
have fallen back into her seat. She reached 
the judge's room with profound thanks to Dr. 
Cumberladge, who assured her that change of 
air was all she needed. 

The Doctor returned into Court, where he 
found Mr. Warner with his eyes fastened on 
the speaker who was then absorbing every 
one's attention. 

Warner appeared to be quite unconscious 
of what had happened to his wife. 

Tearing away from the statement of the 
learned counsel for the prosecution every 
thread of extraneous matter, Mr. Arden de- 
clared that there was not a tittle of evidence 
against the prisoner, and complained in modest, 
but firm tones, of the absence of one witness 



208 MASSTON. 

whom the prosecution ought to have called 
but had not. " Gentlemen, Mr. Warner has 
sworn that he did not see the prisoner in the 
room from which Lord Limethorpe's pocket- 
book is alleged to have been stolen ; and all 
that the learned Serjeant has produced by way 
of proof that the prisoner was there, is the 
word of one of Mr. Warner's clerks to 
Mr. Warner. That, gentlemen, is not evi- 
dence, as his lordship will inform you. The 
name of that clerk is James Reklaw. Why 
has not James Reklaw been produced ?" 

At this moment, while the young barrister 
paused with an impressive look at the jury, a 
note was thrown to him across the table, by 
one of his brother advocates. He opened it, 
and read it hastily. It contained these words : 
" Ruckles is here." He again addressed 
the Court. " I find," he said, " that I need 
not trouble you with any set speech. I will 
proceed at once to call — Robert Ruckles." 
At these words, as if he had sprung up through 



MASSTON. 209 

the floor of the Court, a light-haired youth, 
with small grey eyes, and heavy shoulders, 
appeared in the witness-box. 

" Your name is Robert Ruckles, and you 
are employed at the Oxford Works?" inquired 
Mr. Arden. 

" I was turned off," answered the youth 
sulkily ; " my mother is still there." 

" Oh ! your mother is still there. When 
were you turned off ? " 

" The day after the row between the master 
and Mr. Blanchard." 

" At the time of that ' row/ however, you 
were employed at the Oxford Works ? " 

" O' course I were. I was a sort o' servant 
to Mr. Blanchard." 

" A sort of servant ? What does that 
mean ? " 

" Well, I used to fetch and carry things for 
him." 

"Did you fetch or carry anything on that 

morning ?" 

vol. 11. o 



2IO MASSTON. 

" No ; Mr. Blanchard kept me all the morn- 
ing- a learning of me to draw." 

" Then you were in his room all the morn- 
ing? 

" I never left it." 

" Did Mr. Blanchard leave the room ? " 

" I remember as how he said he was aofoinof 
to speak to my mother about me. And in 
course he went out then." 

" About what time was this ? " 

"Just upon dinner-time, that's twelve o'clock." 

" Then between ten and twelve o'clock you 
are sure Mr. Blanchard never left his room ? " 

" Yes, I'm quite sure." 

" What makes you so sure ? " 

" Cause he was atorking to me about my 
mother and my sister, and about my learning 
to drawer, and being what he called a better 
man ; he was atorking to me all the time and 
making lines for me to do after him." 

" Anything else ? " 

" Yes, there were sommut else." 



MASSTON. 2 I I 

" What was it ? " 

"He a'most made me cry." 

" You recollect that ?" 

" Yes, I reckerlect well enough." 

" When did the 'row,' as you call it, begin ? " 

" Just about then." 

" Was there any one besides yourself in Mr. 
Blanchard's room when he was away ? " 

" Mr. Reklaw came in to look for Mr. Blan- 
chard." 

" Did he speak to you ? " 

" No, he didn't see me." 

" Oh, he did not see you. Did he do any- 
thing ? " 

"Yes, he just did something." 

" What was it ? " 

" He went to Mr. Blanchard's coat and he 
put a book in the pocket ! " 

The manner in which the witness delivered 
these simple words produced what the news- 
papers called a profound sensation in Court. 
Serjeant Lawlud was seen to be in eager con- 



2 I 2 MASSTON. 

sultation with the prosecuting attorney. The 
prosecuting attorney pushed his way through 
a thicket of elbows to where Mr. Warner was 
sitting on the bench, and held an eager 
consultation with him. Mr. Arden, with 
singular tact and patience, appeared to be con- 
sulting his brief — he was in reality allowing 
the witness's words to have their full weight 
with the Court. 

" Go on," said the Judge in an approving 
tone of voice. 

" Now is that (motioning to the officer of 
the Court to show it) anything like the book 
you saw Reklaw put into Mr. Blanchard's 
pocket ? " 

" Why/' said the witness with a stare, " it's 
the very same identical book." 

" How do you know that, my man ? " asked 
Arden daringly. 

" Why, I never afore saw one like it." 

" What did Reklaw do when he had placed 
that book in Mr. Blanchard's coat pocket ? " 



MASSTON. 2 I 3 

" I saw him look round, and walk out on 
tiptoe." 

" Very well. Did anything else happen ? " 

"Yes; Mr. Arklus and Mr. Simpson came 
in, and they opened the drawers, and they put 
their hands in my pockets, and then they put 
their hands in Mr. Blanchard's coat pocket, 
and they found that book." 

" Well now, tell the Court why you did not 
tell Arklus and Simpson that you had seen 
Reklaw put the book into Mr. Blanchard's coat 
pocket." 

" Well, gentlemen, I know as how Reklaw 
had a spite agin Mr. Blanchard, and I wanted 
to lay hold of him, and to make Mr. Blanchard 
like me for sticking: to him when I'd tell him 
what happened." 

" What followed ? " 

" I goes up to Reklaw, who was astanding 
behind the gaffer, and says, says I, whispering 
in his ear, ' You put that book into Mr. Blan- 
chard's coat pocket, because as how I sor ye.' " 



2 1 4 MASSTON. 

" What did Reklaw do then ? " 

" He slipped a couter into my hand, and 
said he'd give me five more to keep my 
mouth shut." 

" A what ? " inquired the Judge, severely. 

" A couter, my lord ; which is slang for a 
sovereign," replied Mr. Arden. 

On which the Judge looked long and 
solemnly at the witness ; and the witness 
looked very much like a dog expecting 
to be pelted with stones, and unable to 
escape. 

On this Mr. Arden sat down, and left the 
scamp Ruckles to the tender mercies of Mr. 
Serjeant Lawlud. 

" This is a pretty cock-and-bull story you 
have told us," began the Serjeant, who was 
almost as much puzzled how to deal with the 
witness as the witness was ashamed of his own 
confession. " A very pretty cock-and-bull 
story/' continued the learned Serjeant, looking 
now at the jury and now at the Judge. 



MASSTON. 2 I 5 

" Did Mr. Reklaw give you the promised 
five pounds ? " 

" Yes, he did." 

" Did you ever ask him for more ? " 

" I asked him for more, and he gave me 
what I asked." 

" How much did they give you for coming 
here ? 

" Nuffink." 

" How much do you expect to get ? " 

" Nuffink. 

In brief, be it said, the learned Serjeant was 
unable to shake, by his cross-examination, the 
evidence which the scamp Ruckles had given. 
How far the hasty and earnest consultation of 
the attorney for the prosecution with the master 
of the Oxford Works prevented master Ruckles 
from being professionally turned inside out 
may be left to the imagination of the reader, 
who is already aware of the mission upon 
which Mr. Reklaw had departed to Australia. 
Ruckles could, if asked, have told the Court 



2 1 6 MASSTON. 

how, when he was ferreted out by the attorney 
for the defence, he had been on the point of 
sailing for Australia in company with Mr. 
Reklaw, who was going there as the accredited 
agent of Mr. Robert Warner; but he was not 
asked. Warner now became aware for the 
first time of Reklaw 's real object in leaving 
the country, and perceived at once that on his 
own connection with his departure might be 
put a very dark construction. After Ruckles' 
dismissal from the box, Mr. Arden proceeded 
to call Dr. Cumberladge, Benjamin J eavons, and 
others, as witnesses to character for Paul, and 
the Serjeant declined any attempt at shaking 
their testimony. The most remarkable thing 
about Dr. Cumberladge's appearance in the 
box was that Mr. Arden, who had looked full 
at all the other witnesses, examined the doctor 
from behind his brief. The Doctor explained, 
in the course of his evidence, that Serjeant 
Lawlud's statement as to Paul's approaching 
marriage into a family of higher standing than 



MASSTON. 2 I 7 

his own was incorrect ; the woman to whom 
he was betrothed occupied the position of 
companion rather than servant in the Doctor's 
family, and belonged to Paul's own class. 
Jeavons testified that Paul had no connection 
for profit or loss with the provision shop. 

Then occurred the most tragic incident of 
the trial, which was, however, known to only 
two people in the Court. Dr. Cumberladge 
walked straight out of the witness-box to where 
Warner sat, and gave him a folded slip of 
paper on which was written, " The counsel 
for the prisoner is your own son." 

Warner, who had been in a state of tension 
all through the trial, felt, as he always did 
when any undefined terror assumed a definite 
shape, inspired with new determination. He 
looked round for his wife, and did not see her. 
Turning to Mr. Gadso he said, with perfect 
calmness, " What has become of Edith ? " 

" I have been so engrossed," replied that 
excellent man, " by the proceedings that I only 



2 I 8 MASSTON. 

missed Mrs. Warner two minutes aeo. I am 
informed that she was overcome by the heat, 
and drove home." For this piece of news 
Warner was not unthankful. He resumed his 
attention to the case. Mr. Serjeant Lawlud 
was making his speech, in which he dwelt on 
the worthless character of the testimony given 
by Ruckles, and informed the jury that if 
they could in their consciences believe the 
evidence of a ruffian who could be bought 
body and soul for a few pounds, no one would 
be more delighted than himself to see the 
prisoner acquitted of the grave charge against 
him. But he was there to discharge a duty, 
and it was imperative upon him to warn them 
against letting any personal feeling, or any 
mistaken desire for mercy, interfere with the 
discharge of theirs. 

Scarcely had Brother Lawlud sat down, 
when the Judge, with great peremptoriness and 
unusual clearness of voice, said — " Gentlemen 
of the jury. This is a case with the discussion 



MASSTON. 2 I 9 

of which I need trouble you very little. You 
have heard what the learned Serjeant has 
said as to the evidence of the lad Ruckles, 
which if you believe it, will at once exonerate 
the prisoner at the bar. I will ask you to con- 
sider whether it is likely that Ruckles, for 
purposes of his own, or from any desire to 
serve the prisoner, should have invented or 
learnt a circumstantial story involving a confes- 
sion of his own wickedness in taking a price 
for his silence as to this crime. That is for 
you. You have heard the character given 
to the prisoner by men of his own class, 
and of a class above him, and to that you 
will give its due weight, while you will re- 
member that the evidence against the prisoner 
is of a purely circumstantial kind. Gentlemen, 
you will consider your verdict." 

The Judge bowed to the jury, and the jury 
turned round, put their heads together, and in 
less than a minute showed their faces to the 
Court again. Mr. Jackson, the clerk, glad to 



2 20 MASSTON. 

have an opportunity of stretching his lungs, 
asked them, as if they were a mile off instead 
of a yard, whether they had agreed upon a 
verdict, and what it was ? and the foreman 
answered, " That they found the prisoner Not 
Guilty." " Then," said Mr. Jackson, dropping 
a sheet of paper on to his desk, " he is not 
guilty." 

" God bless your lordship for that ! " cried a 
little woman from the gallery, while she 
brought one hand down on the other as if she 
were an auctioneer striking a bargain. 

" Paul Blanchard," said the Judge, "you have 
been tried by a jury of your fellow-men, who 
have found you not guilty of the charge 
brought against you. In their verdict I 
entirely concur, and I will add to it that 
you leave this Court with an unblemished 
reputation." 

Mr. Arden rose from his seat, and applied 
to the Judge for a bench-warrant for the ap- 
prehension of James Reklaw. " The applica- 



MASSTON. 2 i I 

tion is unusual, but under the circumstances I 
will grant it," said the Judge, who had been so 
much pleased with Arden's bearing throughout 
the case that he instructed his marshal to 
invite him to luncheon. 

When Warner returned to Baston he was 
met by Edith and Julia, who in the same 
breath asked him two different questions. He 
answered Julia's by repeating the verdict. " I 
told you so," said Julia joyfully. He was pass- 
ing into the house when Edith stopped him. 
" You did not hear my question," she said. 
" Do you know the barrister who defended 
Mr. Blanchard?" 

" No," answered Warner in a harsh voice, 
and shaking his wife off his arm, went into the 
house. 



( 222 ) 



CHAPTER XII. 

" How many cowards, whose hearts are all as false 
As stairs of sand, . . . 
Who, inward search'd, have livers white as milk." 

— Merchant of Venice, iii. 2. 
" Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, 
Which we ascribe to Heaven." 

—Airs Well that Ends Well, i. I. 

It was a cause of amazement to Warner to 
find that he was becoming cold, and at times 
even brutal, to his wife. He mourned over it in 
secret — he hated himself on each occasion his 
temper gave way — for he lost not only his self- 
respect but his power. True, he did not love, 
but the question forced itself upon him, why 
was he so rude to one who was so gentle — so 
cruel to her who had only done him the wrong 
of marrying him. He could not tell. But in 
truth he took no pains to find out, or, what is 



MASSTON. 223 

equally likely, he dreaded even his own sober 
answer to his own question. A liar — a thief — 
a scoundrel, double-dyed — a wretch whose only 
rest from torment lay in self-deception — and 
whose character and fortunes were built on 
the deception he practised on others, could no 
more help being conscious of his own baseness 
in the presence of a woman like her who was 
his wife than the unconscious needle can help 
pointing to the north except when a stronger 
magnet governs it, when, without doubt, it will 
be sure to point in the very opposite direction. 
It was quite natural that Edith should ask 
her husband if he knew the young barrister, 
whose look and manners had moved her so 
mysteriously ; and the young barrister being 
none other than his own son — stolen by means 
of treason, and the theft concealed by all the 
arts of crime — it was equally natural that her 
husband should give for answer a deliberate 
lie, accompanied by some sign of resentment 
for being compelled into giving it. 



2 24 MASSTON. 

Edith, who knew that these fits of harshness 
passed away if she kept silence, and attributing 
her husband's disturbed mind and ungentle 
manner to the events of the day, continued to 
dwell on the figure of Hugh Arden. As she 
sat in her room looking - on the green lustre of 
the fields, and the sweet and dappled beds of 
lovely flowers, she heard the tones of his voice, 
and she felt his face imprinted on her heart. 

" He might have been our son," she said, 
and then some large warm tears fell from her 
eyes. 

Julia here entered the room, and perceiving 
her sister's tearful face, went, as was her cus- 
tom on such occasions, and knelt down at her 
side, put her arms round her waist, and pleaded 
a question with her eyes. 

" I am not crying, Julie." 

"So I see," said her guardian, "you are only 
shedding a few tears to give you an appetite." 

The sisters kissed each other, and Edith 
went to dress for dinner. She found her 



MASST0N. 2 25 

husband in her room, her emotion, still strong 
but a little subdued, urged her to take him in 
her arms. 

Warner, unable to resist such goodness, 
responded with as much warmth as he could, 
and the two passed a single moment of gentle 
peace. 

" Robert," she began in a delightful voice, 
"how would you like Mr. Hugh Arden for a 
brother-in-law ? " 

Warner laughed boisterously. Edith thought 
unreasonably so. 

" I am very fond of Mr. Sweetapple, you 
know, dear ; but I am quite sure Julia does not 
care for him, and never will. Of all the men 
I have ever seen, I think Mr. Hugh Arden 
the handsomest, — and how good he is ! " 

As Edith continued her somewhat excited 

talk about the young counsel, arranging her 

hair at the glass, she caught a glance of her 

husband's face which was reflected in it. 

Warner was in the act of delivering a silent 
vol. 11. p 



2 26 MASSTON. 

sigh, raising his eyes to heaven, and placing 
his right hand on his breast. 

The two faces came together in Edith's 
mind, the one reflected in the glass, the other 
which she carried in her heart. 

In an instant the room was filled with start- 
liner noises. Edith's emotion obtained the mas- 
tery ; she broke into a laugh which was not 
laughter, so much as many sounds being 
shattered and broken to pieces and she fell to 
the ground, uttering some confused words. 

This was very unlike Edith. Warner had 
always regarded her as a woman of great 
strength of mind. He had certainly seldom 
consulted her feelings. He was intensely sur- 
prised, and greatly agitated for a brief space. 
He hung over his wife for an instant, irresolute, 
not knowing what to do. But in that instant 
Edith opened her eyes, which met those of 
Warner, and with a smile of unearthly sweet- 
ness, she said in a calm and loving voice — 
" He might have been your own son." 



MASSTON. 22 7 

Women have been called the saviours of men, 
and, no doubt, there are some women who are 
so anxious to be raised to the office and dignity 
of saviours, that if they can get no one to 
nail them to a cross, they will try and hang 
themselves on one, believing with sublime in- 
fatuation, that their sorrows and suffering's must 
prove effectual in raising the men they love 
into the lovely form and fashion of their own 
beautiful ideals. 

" He might have been your own son." Edith 
in saying those words was ready to yield her 
body and soul as the price for the discovery in 
her husband of the qualities she had once 
attributed to him. She really meant to say, 
" This man is what I took you to be." But that 
would have been to exchange the sufferings of 
love for the responsibilities of reason. 

Warner, if he could only have known it, 
m ght have there and then declared that Hugh 
Arden was none other than his son. For in 
that supreme moment of unselfishness, and 



2 28 MASSTON. 

unreasoning love, Edith would have found not 
only nothing of offence, she would have rejoiced 
in finding that the sweetest dream of her life 
might yet become a living reality. She would 
have connected her emotions on first seeing 
Hugh Arden with her love for Hugh Arden's 
father ; the sweet, though pain-producing, thrill 
which ran through her frame, on hearing the 
sound of the young advocate's voice, would have 
been to her equal to Heaven's own seal to what- 
ever she might do. 

As for Warner, he was blinded by his own 
confusion. Instead of seeking refuge in honest 
confession, he preferred a refuge of lies. His 
great danger, he thought, lay in its becoming 
known to his wife, that this handsome limb of 
the law was the offspring of his own sinfulness. 
Whilst he allowed himself to dwell on the fact 
that he had actually been induced by Birtles, 
a man whom he had deeply wronged, to retain 
his own son for the defence of Paul Blanchard, 
whose wrongs were still greater, he could not 



MASSTON. 2 29 

see that it was nothing but pure accident ; 
on the contrary,, he firmly believed that it was 
a deep-laid plot on the part of some one who 
was jealous of his position in the world, and the 
power he wielded in it. It was this arrogance 
which kept him cold to his wife, at what must 
be called the critical period of their married life ; 
it was this that made him insensible to dangers 
far greater than any which had yet overtaken 
him. His son had come to life again, the 
young bird which had been tossed out of the 
nest into the abyss below, and believed to have 
been killed, had come back a great and mighty 
ea^le — had come back, not grimed with dis- 
grace, or coated with infamy, but clothed in all 
the beauty of manhood, and armed with the 
most powerful of weapons, the sword of jus- 
tice, or, what was more impressive to Warner's 
mind, the sceptre of the law. 

While Warner was thus reeling to and fro in 
a storm of his own raising, a meeting had taken 
place between Hugh Arden and Dr. Cumber- 



23O MASSTON. 

ladge. Soon after the trial, the Doctor had 
sought out the young advocate, and met him 
face to face. And now the Doctor's sins, com- 
mitted in all innocence and good intention, 
were to find him out, as surely as Warner's 
crimes had overtaken their author. The 
Doctor, forgetting that he had deprived Hugh 
of his mother, and unwittingly cast him forth 
upon the world, remembered only on seeing 
him again his own delight, and the wealth 
wrung from the boy's father, with which, 
heaped up through many years, he could now 
endow him. 

" My boy! " cried the Doctor, as he encoun- 
tered Hugh and Birtles. 

" This is my father," said Hugh, with a 
bow to Birtles, " whom I am most glad to 
introduce to Dr. Cumberladofe." 

This was a cruel stab to the Doctor, and one 
which perhaps only a lawyer could have given, 
but he said simply, " I tried all I could to find 
out where you had gone ; and to see you now 



MASSTON. 23I 

prosperous and happy is a great relief, but I 
cannot help wishing you had stayed with me." 

" I wanted to find out where he came from, 
Doctor," said Birtles. 

" Yes," said Hugh, as if interrupting a wit- 
ness, "and it was my doing that he did not find 
out. How is Dolly ? " 

" Do you recollect Dolly ? " asked the 
Doctor with a smile. 

" I heard him talk of Dolly many a time," 
broke in Birtles, " but I never heard till now 
what her surname was. Master Hugh's rather 
close like, as a lawyer ought to be." 

" Don't be hard on us," said Hugh laugh- 
ingly, " we are no closer, I am sure, than the 
commercial men of Masston are, as you may 
guess from the story of our friend Mr. Reklaw. 
And that reminds me I have a business 
engagement with an attorney who has come 
to see me, I will be back soon." He left 
the room. 

" Mr. Birtles," said the Doctor, going up to 



232 MASSTON. 

the merchant with profound emotion, " we two 
are the fathers of this noble boy. I brought 
him up ; I may say that he owes his life to me, 
but he would seem to owe more to you : for 
you must have saved him from perishing. He 
loves you. Do not fear that I will try to dis- 
turb that love." 

Birtles, surprised into supernatural stillness, 
said, " This is very awful, very awful indeed. 
I picked him up in my gig, when he was run- 
ning away from Masston. Did you pick him 
up r 

The Doctor paused ; and found a way of 
keeping his promise to Warner. 

" This is, as you say, very awful," he rejoined 
solemnly, " I too found that boy on a doorstep, 
in Masston, and, as I have said, brought him up. 
Did he tell you anything of his life with me ? " 

" He never told me your name. But he said 
the reason why he ran away was, that he found 
his mother was not his mother, and the boy he 
took for his brother struck him in the face." 



MASSTON. 233 

At this point Arden came back. 

" You are my boy after all," said Birtles ; 
" nobody knows who you are except me : and 
I only know that Dr. Cumberladge saved you 
from dying, and that you ran away from him 
who might have been your father instead 
of me." 

On this Hugh, trained to hide his feelings, 
looked down on the floor, much as he had 
looked at his pen in Court. 

" I hope I shall do credit to two such good 
fathers," he said. 

" Ah, Doctor ! " said Birtles in delight, 
" Mrs. B. was right when, years ago, she wanted 
me to bring this boy back. He's too clever for 
a son of mine : if I'd had any they'd have 
taken after me ; and I'm sure I should never 
dare to talk to a jury as he did." 

" He must love his profession ? " said the 
Doctor with some anxiety in his tone. 

" I love it so much," said Arden, " that I 
shall rinor this bell." 



234 MASSTON. 

A waiter answered it. 

" Bring in a bottle of your oldest port." 

The waiter disappeared. 

" I am going to entertain my two fathers," 
said Arden. "With such parentage," he con- 
tinued, with the bravery of one who " would 
not be Sir Nob in any case," " none can deny 
that I am a man ! " 

Birtles clapped Hugh noisily on the back, 
and clinked glasses with him. The Doctor 
drank his port abstractedly. He was thinking 
that, scoundrel as he knew Warner to be, he 
could not go back from his word to him ; and 
that every circumstance continued to make his 
deed, which he now felt to be impious, of sepa- 
ration between mother and son irrevocable. If 
he told Sarah her son lived and prospered, what 
would it profit her ? For the love that Paul 
Blanchard bore her, she would get the love of 
a son who had never known her. If he told 
Hugh that his mother lived, and who she was, 
the news could not but check his growing sue- 



MASSTON. 235 

cess ; and, worse than that, it would inevitably 
lead to his seeking and discovering his father. 
The Doctor sighed. 

" Come, come ! " said Birtles, hearing him, 
" there should be no sadness here ; " and filled 
the Doctor's glass again. 

" Who is this Mr. Warner ? " asked Hugh, 
who had been thinking of the trial. 

"He is the master of the Oxford Works,' 
said Birtles emphatically. 

" That we know," said Arden in a forensic 
tone. " But where did he come from ? 
What is he ? " he asked, turning to the 
Doctor. 

"He rose," said the Doctor, in a slow, con- 
strained voice, " by his own merits." 

" Like me ? " said Hugh laughingly. 

The Doctor made no answer, and the con- 
versation dropped for a space. 

" Is the old school going on ? " asked Hugh 
presently, as the wine seemed to prove its cheer- 
ful effect. 



236 MASSTON. 

" I believe it is," answered the Doctor ; " but 
we left Masston, soon after you left us, for a 
farm of mine out of town. You will come and 
see us there ? " he said with a curious hesi- 
tation. 

" Assuredly," said Hugh ; "my father Birtles 
shall drive me over, if you will give us the 
direction. Will you stay and dine with us 
to-night ? " 

" I must go home," said the Doctor. " I will 
tell them to expect you." 

He drove home. He determined to settle 
in his mind the course he should take, under 
the chequered circumstances by which he found 
himself mastered. He was o4ad and he was 
sorry, now bewildered for a moment and now 
firm and steadfast. But he could come to no 
decision. The only certain thing in the world to 
him at that moment was, that the ponies were 
rattling along at a very absurd pace. Whether 
these intelligent creatures were making haste 
out of Masston to get clear of its foulness, or 



MASSTON. 237 

glad to carry glad tidings to the Hermitage, or 
had any other reason, is best known to them- 
selves. It is a fact that they went at a splendid 
speed, and their hoofs made a musical clatter 
on the road, like the beating of drums in battle. 
The Doctor noticed them at last, and said to 
the off mare, " Why, Polly, what's up ? " on 
which Polly straightened her neck, and shook 
her heavy mane over her eyes, as if to hide her 
thoughts ; while the near horse arched his long 
tail, pushed himself against his collar, and horse 
and mare had a very jolly time, with all the 
road to themselves, home straight before them, 
and the master driving them himself. The 
consequence was that the Doctor found him- 
self in front of his own door before he knew it, 
and lonor before he had resolved on the course 
he should take. 

They were all on the look-out for him ; for 
they were a thoroughly happy family, who pre- 
served their sympathies fresh and tender, by 
keeping them, not as a stagnant pool close to 
their own door, but as the current stream which 



238 MASSTON. 

flows through many lands, and sweetens the 
sea where it finds its rest. 

" How the ponies are coming along ! " said 
Sarah. 

" Yes," said Dolly, " they know on which side 
their bread is buttered." 

" And sugared," said Shirley. " I never knew 
a pony yet take to sugar who did not get to 
believe that he was conferring an honour on 
the lady from whose hand he graciously re- 
ceived it." 

" How dreadfully grave papa is looking," 
continued Dolly, as the carriage rolled along, 
and the pale but noble face of the Doctor 
came into view. 

He arrived at last. The ponies stopped of 
their own accord, and from the sound of the 
Doctor's voice, they all knew that the events 
of the day had gone well with him whom one 
of their number loved, and all regarded well. 

" These ponies have flown," said he as he 
stepped from his seat, and said no more. 

" Well, papa, you know the ponies have not 



MASSTON. 239 

yet learned to talk, though it appears they have 
learned to fly. What is the news ? " inquired 
Dolly, with that imperiousness which belongs 
to all sweet intelligences when accompanied 
with sound health and the beauty of youth. 

The Doctor, who had evidently been intently 
occupied with other things, here gave one arm 
to Sarah, another to his wife, and said — 
" Dinner, I suppose, is nearly ready ; so let us 
go in and prepare ourselves like Britons for 
our duty, which consists in keeping up a stout 
heart." 

" My heart is quite stout, papa ; and so is 
Sarah's," observed Dolly, who, according to 
the custom of her sex, was telling a premedi- 
tated lie of the darkest colour. 

Brave and stout her heart was in the morn- 
ing as she saw her father go forth to testify 
to what he knew of Paul Blanchard. But as 
the day wore on, she began to ask questions 
about juries, and the cruelties of lawyers, and 
what made her feelings more alive to doubt and 



24O MASSTON. 

fear was the silence of Sarah, who never left the 
house until half-an-hour before dinner ; when 
Dame Cumberladge, taking her by the hand, 
led her to the garden which commanded a 
view of the distant corner of the road round 
which they saw the carriage turn swiftly. It 
was then that Sarah's tongue was loosed. She 
had never doubted, but now she was sure. 
Not so with Dolly, which was simply the dif- 
ference between friendship and love. 

" Well, my dears," the Doctor began after 
the soup, " of course you all know that Mr. 
Blanchard is perfectly innocent of the charge 
brought against him ; and what is more, it is 
now known who the person is who stole Lord 
Limethorpe's pocket-book. It has been a 
very exciting day." 

" How did Mr. Blanchard look ? " inquired 
Dolly. " Do, papa, tell us something." 

Under this young lady's skilful management, 
much that passed in the Court was extracted 
from the Doctor. But of what to him was more 



MASSTON. 24I 

profoundly impressive than aught besides, he 
said not a word ; nor had he decided yet what 
word he could say of the youthful advocate, 
who that day had pierced more hearts than 
one. 

At last the Doctor, who was allowed to 
take his own time on all occasions, and 
under all circumstances, like a well-obeyed 
monarch, who loved his subjects more than 
they loved him, made the startling announce- 
ment, that " Mr. Blanchard would not be at the 
Hermitage that night, but he would come to 
lunch to-morrow with two gentlemen, a Mr. 
Birtles, a merchant of Bristol, who was the 
foster father of the counsel who defended Mr. 
Blanchard, and the young counsel himself, a 
very clever man, and remarkably handsome." 

After that they all went to bed, but they did 
not all go to sleep, and those who slept less 
than any were Doctor Cumberladge and his 
large-hearted wife. 

VOL. II. O 



( 2 42 ) 



CHAPTER XIII. 

"My blood speaks to you in my veins." 

— Merchant of Venice, iii. 2. 

Paul Blanchard would have started off at 
once from the Court to the Hermitage, but 
that he was beset by a crowd of happy human 
beings who took him prisoner. None of these 
Masstonites ever doubted his innocence, but 
they did doubt the uncertainty of the law, or 
the wiliness of lawyers. As for that fox 
Serjeant Lawlud, they would have much liked 
to make him swallow his own head-dress, and 
hang Messrs. Papcook and Pawkins in their 
robes. But they were too happy for revenge, 
and the crowd literally carried Blanchard to 
Jeavons' shop, where it was arranged that as 
many as could should sup with him that night 
at the King's Head. 



9 

MASSTON. 243 

Paul consented to this for the sake of his 
friend Jeavons, whose influence among the 
people spread as rapidly as warmth, and as 
benignantly. For among the men who should 
sit down that night to roast beef and beer, 
were many who had once lost heart, but into 
whose breasts hope had been poured, and they 
had girded up their loins for a fight, in which 
they knew they should come off victors. 

Mr. Hueh Arden, after dining alone with 
Birtles, strolled into the town, intending to 
amuse himself in his own way, first by going 
to have a look at St. James's Square and next 
to visit Jeavons' shop. On his way to the 
Square he passed by the school where he and 
Shirley first tasted the rod of discipline. 
Many of the trivial events of his early life 
came back to his recollection. But the school 
front had undergone a vast change : from 
being a plain, low, unadorned house with a 
pitched roof of red tiles, and a common door- 
way, of straight lines, it had become a Gothic 



244 MASSTON. 

structure with a porch in white stone, very 
ornamental, but nothing to be proud of; and 
the young advocate, whistling aloud, perhaps 
to keep his courage up, made his way to the 
quiet old Square, where suddenly life for him 
was deprived of all its brightness and meaning, 
for a brief space at least. What a change 
awaited him. The Doctor's house was, as it 
were, pushed back between two tall houses of 
great magnificence, which towered above every- 
thing and everybody. There was nothing here 
to bring back his childhood, nothing to make 
him linger one poor moment on ground which 
had once been sacred, but had now become as 
common as a highway. Was it possible that 
she whom he had once called mother had also 
changed as much as this ? Himself no doubt 
had changed, and that alone must prepare him 
for seeing great, perhaps vexatious, changes 
in those whom he had known when a child. 
He indulged in some commonplace reflections 
and moved on. As he did so one or two little 



MASSTON. 245 

ideas peeped in on his mind, as if just ventur- 
ing to see how the land lay, and whether 
they could dare to gain their liberty by 
scampering out of their place of confinement. 
But no sooner did these timid little creatures 
show the tips of their noses than Mr. Hugh 
Arden stamped his foot, put on a severe 
frown, and the small and tender things disap- 
peared like squirrels. Both these ideas were 
intimately connected with a young child who 
would now be a young lady, and perhaps as 
much changed as the gaudy grammar school, 
or the dowdy little brick house now jammed 
.between two blue-granite palaces, sixty feet 
high. 

No one knew him. He recognised one or 
two old gables, and the tower of the old church, 
not one of which had changed, but not these 
nor any living thing exchanged with him any 
familiar greeting. He reached Jeavons' shop, 
which was deserted save for the presence of a 
youth of uncommon intelligence and courtesy. 



246 MASSTON. 

" Is the master of this shop at home ? " in- 
quired Mr. Arden, in a voice which sounded 
strange to himself. 

" No, sir." 

" When will he be at home, or where can I 
see him ? " 

On which the youth proceeded to inform 
Mr. Arden of the feast that was then going- on 
at the King's Head, and how his master was 
there, and Mr. Blanchard, together with a 
hundred working men at least. 

Thither did Arden direct his steps. He 
wanted to see these working men under the 
influence of the men who had been their 
leaders. Is it also likely that his heart was 
craving for some form of sympathy or some 
expression of love which his return to Masston 
had revived, or reawakened, which he thought 
had long ago been smothered ? 

On Arden's entering the banqueting room of 
the King's Head he was received with a burst 
of cheering, which changed the current of his 



MASSTON. '247 

thought. He was surprised out of himself. 
Glad he was not, or if he felt any pleasure, it 
was derived from the fact that these labouring 
men had been trained after some sort to work 
in harmony. He made his way to Blanchard, 
whom he knew, of course, and at his own re- 
quest was introduced to Jeavons. 

Paul, who had been troubled with an un- 
accountable coldness of feeling towards Arden, 
gave up his seat to him, which was next to 
that of Jeavons, and went and sat between two 
of the men who were employed at the Oxford 
Works. Paul, who knew himself to have been 
innocent of stealing Lord Limethorpe's pocket- 
book, could not be made to feel any gratitude 
towards the man who had " grot him off." He 
even resented the young counsel's presence 
at that moment, and was inclined to treat it 
as an impertinence. Presently, there was 
silence. Benjamin Jeavons rose and said that 
Mr. Arden had begged permission to address 
them ; on which the young barrister stood up 



248 MASSTON. 

with the rapidity and air of a man who was 
going to fight, and knew very well how to 
square himself. 

The speech was delivered without gesture 
but with great clearness. Everybody under- 
stood it. It dealt chiefly with the responsibility 
and the weakness of working men ; so long 
as they could meet together, combine, and 
work harmoniously for the attainment of some 
great good, so long would they prosper : in that 
way would they discharge their duties ; only 
so could they maintain the power and dignity 
of their order. Here the speaker referred to 
the social condition of some members of the 
meeting before they had combined to buy their 
own provisions at Mr. Jeavons' shop, and the 
pictures he drew were recognised by many 
who heard them. He then explained the 
fuller and more complete result which should 
be theirs, if they continued to hold together ; 
and finally explained his motives for being 
there that night, and how he had come to con- 



MASSTON. 249 

nect himself with a movement, which he de- 
clared would change the face of the world. 

His words, it should be remembered, were 
spoken, not in the present day, but at a 
time when the working-classes had not as yet 
become the masters of their employers, from 
whom indeed they suffered much hardship. 
In expounding the laws of labour as they then 
stood, Arden vindicated the profession to 
which he belonged, and made even some 
hearts warm towards him which had half 
hated him for being so handsome, and yet 
being " nothing better than a thief of a lawyer." 
" You want lawyers," the young advocate pro- 
ceeded, " and you must have them, to remove 
bad laws. I was very much astonished the 
other day to be set right by a bricklayer, a man 
who couldn't read or write. A number of first- 
rate bricklayers were taking down the walls of 
an old house in a street, on which I remarked 
to a friend of mine that it was a waste of skill 
to employ these men for such work ; for that 



25O MASSTON. 

common labourers could do it quite as well ; on 
which the bricklayer, who was standing by, re- 
marked, " Yes, and a pretty mess they would 
make of it ; they would first kill somebody 
who was passing by, and then end in killing 
theirsens, besides smashing all the bricks to 
pieces." I saw at once what my instructor 
meant, and gave him my thanks. It is pre- 
cisely the same with regard to our laws ; there 
are many which must come down, but we have 
got to take care how we remove them, or we 
shall pull them about our ears. Ever since I 
knew that a skilled bricklayer was required to 
pull down an old house, I have been proud of 
being a lawyer ; for there is much to be pulled 
down of man's law before we can build up for 
ourselves the laws of God, and that pulling 
down, let me tell you, has to be done with 
the greatest care, for very great and obvious 
reasons." 

With the music of that voice the dingy room 
was changed into a hall of gladness, and the 



MASSTON. 251 

realities of the present, with their struggle for a 
cruel tyranny, together with their fierce de- 
mands and their unrelenting claims, were 
shown to be mere spectres of the brain, 
by being connected with a future in which 
there was to be no caprice ; from which all 
chance was to be abolished, and every dis- 
ability and restriction and obstruction, which at 
present dwarfed a man, was to be swallowed 
up in perfect freedom. " The moment you 
cease to be working men," were Arden's con- 
cluding words, " that moment you seal your 
doom. Be it to become drunkards, thieves, or 
aristocrats, the issue will be the same ; but con- 
tinue in the sacred ranks of workers, recailatinof 
your labour, perfecting the laws which belong 
to it, cultivating mercy, understanding justice, 
and using your strength for the good of the 
ignorant and the weak, so will you not only 
make yourselves great, but become immortal." 
As the speaker sat down, Paul Blanchard 
was the first to rise, and immediately the 



252 MASSTON. 

cheers which followed Huorh Arden's address 

o 

ceased, and there was a dead silence. No one 
there present, except Benjamin Jeavons per- 
haps, had ever heard Blanchard make a speech 
except when in his cups. 

" How quick," he began, " does light travel ! 
I have hated lawyers all my life, and now I 
hate myself for not knowing better ; and what a 
glory it is for a man to exchange hatred for 
love ! It is like tossing about all night in a hide- 
ous dream, in which you are committing murder, 
and waking up in the bright warm morning, to 
find yourself an innocent human being." 

To Paul's perfect astonishment, his voice 
gave way, his eyes filled with tears, and the 
only thing he was equal to, was to break out 
into a very eloquent smile, and sit down. The 
impression produced on every heart was too 
deep for words, and the meeting relapsed into 
an informal collection of groups of men, all 
talking of one and the same thing. 

It has been dinned into our ears, till some 



MASSTON. 253 

have been driven mad by the noise, that self- 
love is the true and only bond of society. 
Of some kind of society, no doubt this is true, 
the society, for example, in which Mr. R. W. 
Warner became a shining ornament. The 
bond which bound together that night Hugh 
Arden, Paul Blanchard, and Benjamin Jeavons 
with a hundred hard-working men of Masston, 
was the very opposite of self-love, and it led to 
great events and large enduring consequences. 

Another, but much shorter speech, closed a 
meeting which is still frequently alluded to by 
many a fireside 

" I should not, I think," said Mr. Arden, as 
he rose to address the men who were all stand- 
ing up, " I should not be doing right if I left 
this room without telling you, that I am in- 
debted for the honour and the true happiness 
of being this night in Masston, and of defend- 
ing one whom I shall always be proud to call 
my friend, I mean Mr. Blanchard, I am in- 
debted, I say, for all this to the proprietor of 



2 54 MASSTON. 

the Oxford Works. I think it is only fair for 
you to know this." 

The announcement was received in silence, 
which was broken by Tappit the blacksmith, 
calling out in a ringing voice, " Three cheers 
for Mr. Arden ! " There then arose a shout 
which threatened to lift the roof off the King's 
Head. 

The next morning found Birtles, Arden, and 
Blanchard driving to the Hermitage. Paul 
knew the way, Birtles drove, and Arden sat 
silent and dreamy ; his chin rested on his chest, 
and his eyes looked straight on like a sailor's 
looking through a dark night for rocks ahead, 
and feeling tolerably sure that no rocks are 
there except those which some bungling navi- 
gator has caused to be pricked on an uncertain 
chart. 

As they came within view of the chapel, Paul 
caught sight of a figure entering its porch. 

" There," said Paul, springing out of the 
carriage at the risk of his limbs, " is the one 



MASSTON. 255 

woman " The rest of the sentence was 

lost in the sound of his hurrying feet. 

" I wonder how many men there are like 
that," said Arden, looking after him. " Only 
one in a thousand would be enough." 

" Bless your heart," said Birtles with a wise 
chuckle, "we all do it. I was just the same 
with Mrs. B. I remember as if it was yester- 
day jumping into a carriage just as he jumped 
out of one." 

Arden made no answer, he was thinking of 
other matters. They arrived at the house ; 
the wide hall door stood open, giving fearless 
welcome to the day. 

The Doctor appeared as the carriage stopped, 
and received Arden as if he had been his son. 

" But where is Blanchard ? " he asked. 

"In the chapel." 

The Doctor smiled, " We shall see him pre- 
sently no doubt. Come in. Take off your great- 
coats," said the Doctor in a mellow voice. 

They followed him into the breakfast room. 



256 MASSTON. 

Dame Cumberladge arose and gave both her 
hands to Hugh, who bent and kissed them. 

" My daughter," she said turning to Dolly. 
Arden flushed and made a hasty step for- 
ward ; then, with an unaccustomed awkward- 
ness stopped himself midway, and returned 
Dolly's gracious bow. At the same moment 
the Doctor's wife turned towards Birtles and 
Arden, saying simply, " My guardian," intro- 
duced him to the woman who had once been 
to him guardian and mother. 

In the midst of this Paul and Sarah came in. 
The Doctor and his wife exchanged glances, in 
which there was some apprehension. 

" This is Mr. Arden," said Paul ; and she 
put out her hand to him. And so after their 
long separation, Sarah, not knowing him any 
more than he knew her, met the boy who she 
believed was in heaven. 

" Where is Shirley ? " asked the Doctor, 
whose state of mind made him long to know 
that he had a voice. 



MASSTON. 257 

"He is coming across the lawn," answered 
Dolly. 
" Open the window and let him in." 
" He has grot the dogs with him." 
" Let them come in too ; this is a feast-day." 
Shirley, trying to calm the dogs' delight at 
the sight of Blanchard, and at being let into 
the house, swung in through the open window. 
He went straight up to Sarah seeing Paul by 
her side, and said, " Now I can tell you how 
glad I am that the truth came out." 

"This, Shirley," said the Doctor, "is Mr. 
Arden, who brought it out." As the two men 
shook hands, a look of perplexity crossed 
Shirley's face, which the other speedily dis- 
pelled by turning to Sarah and saying, " I am 
glad I knew nothing of you whilst I was 
defending Mr. Blanchard, for I should have 
thought less of him than of you." 

Sarah's face opened into a smile, and she 
was about to make some natural answer, when a 
servant came in to say that luncheon was ready. 

VOL. II. R 



258 MASSTON. 

Birtles found his tongue, and delighted the 
company with some account of his own career, 
in the course of which he more than once had 
occasion to speak of the master of the Oxford 
Works. 

" I gave," he said amongst other things, "the 
first great lift to Mr. Warner." 

" How was that ? " asked the Doctor, and 
Birtles explained the transaction between 
Warner and the three B.s, which has been 
told. " But though it made him, it unmade 
us," he added with a wilful chuckle, that would 
have roused the wrath of Mrs. B. if she had 
heard it. 

Sarah, who was engaged in talk with Arden, 
was at this moment asking if he meant to stay 
to dinner at the Hermitage. 

" No," he answered, " we must return im- 
mediately ; my time here is short." 

" I am sorry," said Sarah, " I may not see 
you again." 

"Mr. Arden," here interposed the Doctor, 



MASSTON. 259 

" you will stay and dine with us, I hope. You 
would like, I think, to look over the farm." 

" I would like that much," replied Arden, 
" but I fear I cannot stay to dinner." 

" Come," said the Doctor, not unwilling to 
separate Arden from Sarah, " let us show Mr. 
Arden our lions, or, to speak accurately, our 
pigs." 

Doctor Cumberladge, unaccustomed to play 
a part, and unwilling to inflict more pain on his 
wife, who suffered acutely on account of Hugh 
Arden, here rose from the table, and left the 
room with the air of a man who expects every- 
body to follow. Only the men did so, Dame 
Cumberladge, Sarah, and Dolly remained like 
people who, for the first time in their lives, had 
gone to the play, and who knew nothing of 
the difference between a drop scene and the 
ereen curtain. 

Arden discovered for himself that Cumber- 
ladge had not made him known to Dolly, 
and kept himself to himself in speaking 



260 MASSTON. 

with Shirley ; neither Shirley nor Dolly had 
the least idea who he was, except that he 
was the deliverer of their friend, and with 
this thought filling their minds they could 
entertain none other. Dame Cumberladge, on 
the other hand, could think of nothing else 
than that this splendid figure of a man was 
none other than Sarah's son, and that she, 
Dame Cumberladge, a daughter of one of the 
oldest and best families in England, and the 
wife of one of the poorest of its best men, was 
standing by, and consenting to the eternal 
separation of son and mother — and such a 
mother, and such a son ! And all this wrong, 
and the degrading pain and sorrow which 
sprang from it, was because Dr. Cumberladge 
must keep faith with one of the most accursed 
scoundrels who cannot creep through this world 
without defiling it. 
" How handsome he is! " said Dolly. 
" Very ! " said Dame Cumberladge with 
emphasis. 



MASSTON. 26 T 

" I must make him a present," said Sarah 
with much meditation. 

" You shall," said the Dame ; " we will both 
give him a present, but he shall think it comes 
only from you." 

She left the room, like one who goes to look 
at a hidden treasure, or to see that a concealed 
captive is in safe hiding. 

" My mother is always discovering that she 
has some new jewel," said Dolly. 

The lady returned, bringing a gold ring 
which carried a large ruby, in the centre of 
which was fixed, with great art, a dia- 
mond. " Take this," she said to Sarah, " to Mr. 
Arden, and ask him to wear it for your sake ; 
you may say that I asked you to place it on 
his hand." 

This was to be secret between the three 
women — very harmless in itself, as they 
thought. But it may be safely affirmed, that 
in this age of enlightenment it is absolutely im- 
possible for a secret to become other than a 



262 MASSTON. 

very dangerous thing, however sweet and 
innocent it may be when born. 

Sarah proceeded to the garden, looking 
intently at the beautiful jewel she was to place 
on the finger of her son. He and Paul were 
standing in front of the chapel porch. Sarah, 
taking Paul's arm, said to Arden — 

" Will you let me make you a present, which 
I should like you to keep for my sake ? Mrs. 
Cumberladge told me to say that she would 
like me to place it on your finger." 

This little ceremony -was performed with 
much simplicity. Sarah placed the ring on the 
outstretched finger of a hand which, till then, 
had not been deemed suitable for carrying a 
ring. When this was done, she clasped Paul's 
arm with both hands, looking at the ring, and 
the hand to which it had passed. 

Arden who, although a lawyer, was too 
young to be insensible to all the courtesies of 
common humanity, looked at the ring with 
increasing astonishment ; then kissed it, then 



MASSTON. 263 

looked at Sarah as if he would have wished 
also to kiss her ; but instead thereof said — 

" I will always wear this ring for your sake 
and the lady's sake who told you to place it 
here," and he kissed it again, and that was the 
end of the ceremony. 

The Doctor, Birtles, and Shirley were on the 
other side of the chapel. 

" Mr. Birtles," said the Doctor, " you can do 
me a favour," and taking Birtles aside, explained 
to the brisk little man how that he had more 
than five thousand pounds, which belonged to 
"our boy," as he called Hugh Arden. " But," 
continued the Doctor, " there is this condition 
attached to it ; he must never know from 
whom it comes. Had he remained with us, 
there would have been no difficulty ; but that is 
past and gone." 

" Then," said Birtles, leaping to a conclusion, 
" you know his parents ? " 

" I do ; and that is precisely the secret which 
I must reveal to no one." 



264 MASSTON. 

" Five thousand pounds ! " mused Birtles ; " I 
think he would rather know who his father and 
mother were, than take those five thousand 
pounds." 

" That," said the Doctor, " must not be 
thought of, as far as I am concerned. I am 
bound by my own promise ; and, besides that, 
it would profit him less than nothing to know. 
The truth was hid from him by me at first, and 
I must hide it from him still ; that is the penalty 
I pay for usurping a power which did not 
belong to me." 

The Doctor spoke with so much repentance 
in his voice and aspect, that Birtles only 
answered — 

"Is there anybody to be hurt by the dis- 
covery ? " 

" There are good and bad people mixed up 
in this matter." 

" And you can't separate them ? Well, it's 
always so. If it weren't for some of the good 



MASSTON. 265 

people in this world, the bad would never have 
a chance." 

" Yes," said the Doctor meditatively ; " the 
good people are the fair garden walls, along 
which the villains creep to their work." 

" Well, Doctor," said Birtles, " I will under- 
take to convey the money to Hugh." 

And upon that conclusion they returned to 
the house, which Birtles and Hugh soon left, to 
take their way back to Masston. 



( 266 ) 



CHAPTER XIV. 

" How quickly nature falls into revolt 
When gold becomes her object ! " 

— Second Part of Henry IV., iv. 4. 

Warner meanwhile had found no rest amid 
the tempest which his own incantations had 
called up to tear and buffet him. Whilst he 
was still thinking of the impending danger 
which he dreaded, he knew not why, from his 
unacknowledged son, a letter reached him with 
the Paris postmark, demanding in peremptory 
terms the immediate payment of five thousand 
pounds, together with a bond for the future 
payment of certain moneys found to be due 
from Robert Warner to Lord Francis Elbston. 
The solicitor who had written the letter ob- 
served that his client's conditions were unusually 
lenient, as he felt that he himself had been 



MASSTON. 267 

guilty of some negligence in not making earlier 
inquiry into these matters. He trusted that 
Mr. Warner would not delay to set right the 
results of the neo-li^ence that had existed on 
his side. 

Warner received this letter at the Oxford 
Works, and when he had read it, went out to 
his carriage, which was waiting for orders, and 
drove straight to Battwood's Bank. There he 
had a private interview with the manager, from 
which he came out with a sullen and menacing 
look. He had convinced himself that his 
creditors had had their confidence in him shaken, 
and his hurrying mind, unable to discover a 
way out of his difficulties, was busy with their 
probable effects. At other times a sudden 
demand made on Warner for five thousand 
pounds would have been answered by a cheque 
or bill sent with a letter by a clerk. But now 
the storm-tide had reached his feet, and there 
was nothing behind him but a helpless cliff. 
He sat gloomily debating with himself whether 



268 MASSTON. 

he should at all risks raise the money imme- 
diately required, and wait for the chance of the 
apparently inevitable crash being prevented ; 
and wished vainly that he had not, like a fearful 
patient hiding symptoms from his doctor, 
concealed the true state of his affairs from his 
confidential lawyer. He had just resolved to 
send for this confessor when Dr. Cumberladge 
was announced. 

A change had passed over both Warner and 
the Doctor since they had last met. The one 
had grown hard in the shell of his wrong- 
doing ; the other had learned his own frailty, 
and the sorrow which he got from the learning 
made him pitiful even to the most knavish of 
his race. He greeted Warner with less acer- 
bity than on the occasion of their former inter- 
view. But the gentleness of his bearing was 
soon changed by the question which Warner 
immediately put to him, in a snarling tone — 

" How do you know that Mr. Hugh Arden 
is my son ? " 



MASSTON. 269 

"Just as I know you to be Mr. Robert 
Welsher Warner ; just as I know Sarah Arm- 
strong, whom you tried to destroy, to be his 
mother ; just as I know you to be filled with 
the knowledge that he is your son. Do you 
doubt it ? " said the Doctor in a tone of com- 
mand. 

Warner quailed for a moment, but reco- 
vered himself quickly, and said, with a dry 
emphasis — 

" There are certain transactions between us 
two, which I do not wish to render more un- 
pleasant than they need be." 

" Unpleasant ! " cried the Doctor carried 
away with just wrath. 

" That was my word," replied Warner. 
" Pray listen to what I am going to say. When 
you visited me here more than twenty years 
ago, I offered no objection to the claim which 
you then made for the support of a certain 
child. I make that objection now, and dare 
you to do your worst." 



2 /O MASSTON. 

Warner spoke thus, having found suddenly 
his old fertility of resource, and calculated in a 
moment upon all the reasons which must prevent 
the Doctor from taking any open action against 
him. The Doctor was overwhelmed with the 
cool, lone-headed audacitv which Warner dis- 
played. He sat as one dumb, thus giving 
Warner time to improve his position. 

" Mr. Blanchard," continued the merchant in 
measured tones, " whom I had the pleasure of 
advancing in the world, and in whom I am 
therefore interested, is, I learn, engaged to 
marry — your friend. An attempt to prove 
that Mr. Hugh Arden's parentage is what you 
assert it to be, might have a disagreeable effect 
upon your plans." 

Warner, having delivered this thrust at the 
Doctor, gratified himself with the reflection that 
Dr. Cumberladge was too high-minded to have 
allowed Paul Blanchard to become engaged to 
Sarah Armstrong without telling him something 
of her earlv life, and that this information must 



MASSTON. 271 

have been conveyed without compromising Mr. 
Robert Warner. Intoxicated with his own 
cruelty, he watched the Doctor's evident dis- 
tress, and smilingly asked him what was, in 
fact, the object of his visit. 

The Doctor stood up as though grown young 
again with anger, and said — 

" My object in coming to you was friendly. 
It is now to give back to you the sum of five 
thousand pounds which I have kept for the 
maintenance of the son whom you dis- 
own." 

So saying Dr. Cumberladge felt in his pocket 
for the draft he had prepared for Birtles, which, 
on the impulse of the moment, he was about 
to restore in reckless contempt to the original 
donor of the money. 

"Five thousand pounds!" cried Warner, in 
a strangely eager tone ; and then, again bring- 
ing his swift power of reflection to his aid, and 
stopping the Doctor with a dignified gesture, 
said — 



272 MASSTON. 

" No, that cannot be ; I will not take back 
what I gave freely." 

" Gave ! for what purpose, pray, did you 
give it r 

" I gave it in charity to an object of your 
care. 

" Then take it back, for there is no charity 
in it. 

And with that the Doctor flung down the 
cheque on Warner's table, and walked out of 
the room. 

Warner, left alone, started to his feet with 
upstretched hands. Once more the powers 
that ruled his fate had decided for his success. 
Five thousand pounds, which Dr. Cumberladge 
had forced upon him against his will, was pre- 
cisely the sum required to satisfy his present 
need. As he stood in an attitude expressive 
of ecstatic gratitude, the door slowly opened, 
and Edith came into the room. Just so had 
she come in when she first saw Robert Warner, 
just so had she found him full of a devout 



MASSTON. 273 

delight. But then the door had seemed to her 
to open by some beauteous magic ; now, she 
knew it to be a mere trick. And just as the 
glamour had faded from the once mysterious 
approach to Warner's sanctuary, so had the 
majesty of pious fervour, which once filled her 
with reverence, passed away from his aspect. 
She saw in him nothing but a man proud in 
his own success ; he saw in her nothing but a 
woman, who might find him out. Both re- 
membered how they had thus met before, and 
both longed to forget it. 

Edith was the first to speak. 

" Where have you been all this time ? " she 
coolly asked. 

" Enea^ed on business. I have but one note 
to write, and I will come home with you." 

He sat down at his writing-table, and un- 
folded the cheque which the Doctor had left, 
intending to enclose it to Lord Francis. As 
he looked at it, and saw that it was payable 



2 74 MASSTON. 

to James Birtles or order, his expression 
changed ; his eyes opened wide, and his mouth 
grew set. 

" What — what — can he have to do with it ? " 
he said, forgetting his wife's presence. And 
she, attentively regarding him, saw how deeply 
troubled he was, and still longed to help him. 
This she mioht have done, and would have 
done had he asked her ; but he got up, and 
making some hurried and confused explanation 
to her, went out of the room, and, with the 
cheque still in his hand, went for the second 
time to the bank, and, as was his custom, 
walked straight to the manager's room. 

" This cheque," he said, " has by some inad- 
vertence been made out in the wrong name. 
It should be payable to me. Will you kindly 
communicate with Dr. Cumberladge on the 
matter ? " 

The manager replied that it should be 
attended to, and Warner took the occasion of 



MASSTON. 2/5 

leaving the room with some air of offended 
dignity. He then returned to the works, 
wrote instructions to Lord Francis's solicitor 
to draw on him at sight for five thousand 
pounds, and was then ready to go home with 
Edith, whom he found sitting patiently where 
he had left her. As they drove towards Baston, 
Edith said to her husband — 

" Are you troubled about anything ? " 
As a matter of fact, Warner was troubled 
with wondering what was the reason for the 
Doctor's cheque being made payable to Birtles, 
and whether James Reklaw would be arrested, 
and what, in that case, he might confess. Was 
it possible, he asked himself, that from the 
scamp Ruckles had been extracted anything 
which might supply a definite charge as to the 
Australian transaction, and that the Doctor's 
proceeding had been a deliberate insult ? And 
the result of his self-questioning was that he 
found himself completely vanquished by Dr. 



276 MASSTON. 

Cumberladge. The true explanation, which 
was that the Doctor had become forgetful in 
his wrath, he never entertained. 

In answer to his wife, he said that he was 
not troubled, only tired. 

"Who do you think," she went on with new 
animation, " strolled towards our grounds to- 
day, as Julia and I were going out ? " 

" I cannot guess. Not Lord Francis again ? " 

" No ; some one more interesting to me. 
Mr. Hu^h Arden." 

" Did he go to see you ? " 

" No." 

" Did he — come to see me ? " 

" No. It was a chance meeting. I asked 
him to come in, and we turned back with him. 
I have never seen Julia take such a liking to 
any one." 

Edith would have said much more, some 
days before, on the subject which occupied 
her completely, but she had lost all will and 



MASSTON. 277 

power to communicate her real thoughts to the 
man who had become to her a shadow : and 
the fact of her saying anything at all about Mr. 
Arden was due to a feverish desire to break 
silence, and an inability to talk of anything else. 

Warner, however, made no answer to her 
implied praises of Arden. 

" You are not sorry that he won the case ? " 
she asked. 

" How could I be ? " 

Warner answered with a smile, but there 
was something in his tone which prevented 
Edith from asking any more questions. 

While these two were o-oincr from the Oxford 
Works to Baston Hall, Dr. Cumberladge had 
been to see Birtles at his hotel, and, still hot 
with passion, told him that Hugh's father had 
disowned him, and that he had in conse- 
quence given over to him the cheque for five 
thousand pounds, which he had written out 
for Birtles. 



278 MASSTON. 

" For me ! " said Birtles coolly, " then there's 
time to stop it." 

" Stop it ! " cried the Doctor aghast, " you 
think I was wrong ? " 

" Certainly. You would not deprive the 
boy of the money, because his father is 
a rogue." 

" I am superstitious enough to think that 
wealth got by vileness will carry vileness with 
it wherever it goes. I thought that while I 
could punish this man, by keeping a rod hang- 
ing over him, I was right to take his money 
for the boy. But when he laughed at threats, 
and even denied my power to expose him, I 
could not help flinging the money in his face, 
and laughing at him, as a thing too contemp- 
tible for hatred." 

" That may be," said Birtles, " but five thou- 
sand pounds is five thousand pounds — and a 
very tidy sum for a young man to get as a 
present when he's starting in life. You say 



MASSTON. 2 79 

the cheque was payable to my order. He 
can't cash it unless you alter it, or unless he 
gets my endorsement." 

" Five thousand pounds," said the Doctor, 
" is no doubt a very nice thing, if the pounds 
are clean ; but if every one of them is smeared 
and dirty " 

" Wash 'em," said Birtles. 

" There is some money you can no more 
wash clean, than they could the thirty pieces 
of silver," replied the Doctor. But neverthe- 
less he was overcome by Birtles' arguments, 
and thus it happened that in the course of the 
evening, Warner received an intimation that 
the cheque he had left with Messrs. Battwood 
was correctly written, and would be paid to the 
order of Mr. Birtles. Just as Warner, in his 
own room, sat muttering curses on himself for 
the blunders he had made, the Rev. Wm. Gadso 
and the Rev. Edward Sweetapple arrived at 
the Hall. Edith received Mr. Gadso with her 



280 MASSTON. 

usual kindness, and Julia received Mr. Sweet- 
apple with more than her usual indifference. 

" How are all the birds ?" asked Mr. Sweet- 
apple blandly. 

" The parrot is more snappish than ever," 
said Julia. 

Mr. Sweetapple looked at his finger. 

" I forgave him lon°: a^o ," he said with in- 
tolerable sweetness. 

" I have never forgiven you for being bitten," 
said Julia with admirable gravity. 

Mr. Sweetapple, not quite sure of Julia's 
meaning, and being now very desirous of ascer- 
taining if the next step he took would land him 
on firmer ground, as his mother had assured 
him it would, said gently — 

" Your bird might bite me as often as he 
liked." 

" I don't think he would like it very often," 
said Julia meditatively. Mr. Sweetapple upon 
this was silent for a while. 



MASSTON. 28l 

At this moment Mr. Gadso, who had been 
talking church matters with Edith, said with a 
smile, — 

" And your dear husband ? I would like to 
communicate with him on certain temporal 
matters." 

" You will, I think, find him in his room." 

Accordingly Mr. Gadso went to Robert 
Warner, whom he found drinking old sherry in 
gloomy solitude, and who received Mr. Gadso 
as if he were the fiend come to fetch him. 

" Have some sherry ? " said Warner with 
truculent hospitality. 

Mr. Gadso stared, but none the less accepted 
the sherry. 

"What is this I hear ?" he said softly, as he 
poured out the gold wine. 

" What about ? " inquired Warner in a 
hoarse dull voice. 

Mr. Gadso stared again. 

" What about, I say ? " repeated Warner 
impatiently. 



282 MASSTON. 

" I think," replied Gadso in evident alarm, 
" that I had better see you to-morrow at the 
works." 

" No," said Warner, placing himself with 
some cunning between Gadso and the door; 
" to-morrow I may be — away. Pray tell me, 
dear friend and master," he went on with an 
exaggeration of his old manner, " what is it you 
have heard ? " 

" Oh ! " answered Gadso reassured, " it is 
nothing, no doubt ; but my brother creditors 
asked me to get your authority for muzzling 
certain rumours that seem to touch your credit, 
and," he added with solemnity, " your honour." 

" Aha ! " said Warner, returning to his fierce 
manner, " did I not stop old Ephraim's mouth ? 
Tell your brothers, my creditors, that you and 
they can have their money whenever they like. 
Have some more sherry ? " 

Mr. Gadso, who had not yet tasted his first 
glass, thought it expedient to bow with much 



MASSTON. 283 

courtesy, and to keep to himself his opinion, 
that if Mr. Warner's statement had been true, 
his manner of making it would have been dif- 
ferent. 

" It will be my pleasure to tell them so," he 
replied to Warner, " and now I will wish you 
good-night. God bless you ! " 

" Stop ! Have another glass," said Warner. 

This was, perhaps, the greatest trial in the 
whole of Mr. Gadso's clerical career, but he 
bore it manfully, and bowed himself out of the 
room, to rejoin his young friend and pupil. 

Mr. Sweetapple was almost as much dis- 
comfited as his master, but for a very different 
reason. He had managed to get into a quiet 
corner on some pretence with Julia, and 
when there, had said to her in a distressing 
whisper — 

"Julia!" 

" Mr. Sweetapple ! " Julia had replied in a 
clear tone, which filled him with terror. 



284 MASSTON. 

" May I not hope ? " he babbled. 

"To be bitten again?" said Julia quickly. 
" You can go and try." 

And with that she walked away, leaving Mr. 
Sweetapple convinced that his mother's per- 
ception was for once at fault. His mother, 
however, when he somewhat lugubriously con- 
veyed to her his sense of rejection, bore the 
disappointment with singular fortitude. 

" Pauvre petit" she said, " cest un coup 
manque". Well, you will try again somewhere 
else. Julia would have done very nicely, but 
that Warner fellow is no better than he should 
be. He's a pack of lies, that you may take my 
word for." 

" My dear Edward," said Mr. Gadso as they 
left Baston Hall together, " a very distressing 
circumstance has befallen me ; I am greatly 
troubled." 

" So am I," said the pupil. 

This was quite true ; and of these two help- 



MASSTON. 285 

less men, smarting with ignoble sorrow, neither 
could comfort the other; indeed, their com- 
panionship might have been taken as a type 
of the parable often expounded with much 
rhetoric by each of them, of the blind leading 
the blind. They could neither see the ditch 
yawning before them, nor point it out to 
others. 



( 236 ) 



CHAPTER XV. 

" Some there be that shadows kiss ; 
Such have but a shadow's bliss : 
There be fools alive, I wis, 
Silver 'd o'er : and so was this." 

— Merchant of Venice, ii. 9. 

The next morning Mr. Robert Warner eot 
up with a consciousness of having something 
weighty on his mind, which hurried him into 
a feverish activity. He felt, for almost the 
first time in his life, the tyranny of doing ill 
by stealth, and blushing to find it infamous. 
He had a vague recollection of having played 
some practical joke on Mr. Gadso ; and re- 
membering this, he was filled with an irritation 
strange to his nature, which was only dis- 
pelled by his reading a letter, sent to him by 
the new foreman at the Oxford Works, who 
wrote — 



MASSTON. 287 

" Honoured Sir, — The experiment promises 
well. The process is certain. We shall make 
the first trial very early. — I remain, honoured 
sir, yours obediently, 

" Adam Coatham." 

" There are thousands in this ! " cried 
Warner in trumph. " When it is once set 
going, Lord Francis and the creditors will 
be hat in hand to me again. The bank, too, 
will be glad enough to wait. They can't 
afford to throw me over for five thousand. 
As for Reklaw — and Mr. Arden — I shall find 
means to stave off danger from them." 

He dressed himself, rang his bell, ordered 
breakfast and the carriage at once, and left 
his home without a thought for any one in it. 
Arrived at the works he went straight to the 
laboratory. 

" We are quite ready, sir," said Coatham, 
bustling importantly forward to meet him. 

" Come, then," said Warner, taking up his 



2 88 MASSTON. 

place on a broad plank stretching across a 
large vat, containing a mess of deadly poison, 
and one of the precious metals in solution, 
" let us begin." 

Coatham also took up his place by the side 
of an eager-faced Frenchman, in a blue blouse 
stained here and there with chemicals, near 
whom stood three or four workmen waiting 
silently for orders. Coatham took up a large 
copper vase of an Etruscan shape, fastened to 
it a copper wire, then attached it to the end of 
the vat where Warner stood, and let it slowly 
descend into the tank of dark liquor. Warner 
stooped and looked anxiously into the turbid 
bath of liquid metal. 

" Take care, sir," cried Coatham, now sup- 
porting his wire with the bent end of a stick, 
and then, looking like a fisherman who has 
hooked a big fish, said — 

"Draw up, sir, and see what has happened," 
and handed the cane to Warner. 

Warner took the cane in his hand, and was 



MASSTON. 289 

drawing up its glistening load, when he saw 
Mr. Hugh Arden appear at the other end of 
the laboratory ; and that sight was his damna- 
tion. A nameless terror seized him ; he felt 
that all his dreams of evil were come true, he 
saw his son advancing upon him like an aveng- 
ing angel ; and, in the very moment of triumph, 
when his star was piercing the black clouds 
that threatened him, he quailed ; dimness 
seized his eyes, a hurrying giddiness swayed 
his limbs, and while, true to his instincts of 
gain, he clung to the vase, heavy with the 
liquid that filled it, he reeled, and fell into the 
dead sea of silver. 

It might seem to the rapid eye of readers, 
that this tank was made on purpose to drown 
Mr. Robert Welsher Warner. This is not the 
case. It was constructed at great expense and 
trouble, to hold a set of bed-posts made ot 
copper, which were to rise from their precious 
bath, transfigured into silver columns for an 

Eastern monarch. Other marvels were in 
vol. 11. t 



29O MASSTON. 

preparation : such as a Corinthian column, 
twelve feet high, also of silver, the base and 
capital of which were to be of gold, intended to 
support the plumed branches of a palm, also in 
silver, which in their turn were to carry a hun- 
dred crystal lamps to light up a marble palace, 
which, though vacant at present, may still be 
seen on the banks of the Lower Nile. 

" Well, he died in harness," said the Rev. 
William Gadso when, conveying the awful 
tidings to Edith, he tried also to comfort her. 

" He died in a tub of poison," said Dr. 
Cumberladge. 

" He died by accident," said a jury. 

"It was a very sudden fall," observed one 
Masstonite to another, and then it occurred to 
every one that Mr. Robert Warner had risen 
very suddenly. 

" Yes, he had a very sudden rise," remarked 
a heavy commercial man to another com- 
mercial man who shook his head, and said, 
" That explains everything." No doubt it ex- 



MASSTON. 29I 

plained much ; a rapid walk up the spiral stair- 
case of a lofty tower, has very frequently ended 
in a far more rapid coming down than the 
climber expected, which was entirely owing to 
the "sudden rise." 

The impression left on Hugh Arden was 
that Warner deliberately plunged into the vat, 
and knew what he was doinof at the time. 

" I saw him," he related to Birtles an hour 
afterwards, " look straight at me as I walked 
up to him, and his face in one moment seemed 
to become a canker'd heap of strange achieved 
gold, cracked all over, wrinkled with care, 
horror, and, I was going to say, damnation. I 
once saw a man whom I defended — but who, 
nevertheless, was condemned to be hanged — 
leave the dock with the same look on his face." 

" A very sudden death then," mused Birtles. 

"No doubt, that was the best part of it," said 
Hugh. "When are you going home ? " 

" I am quite ready," said Birtles, " except 
that I have to collect five thousand pounds." 



292 MASSTON. 

" How long will that take ? " 

"Just ten minutes." 

" Then we will dine at three, and take the 
'Tally Ho' at five." 

Edith and Julia went in the same coach — not 
on the same day, but many days later, and, for 
many a day after Edith wore a long black 
cloak ; and when again she rose into the day 
of the world, it was within the walls of a house 
made gray with incense, and speckled with men 
in black gowns, and women with white linen 
flaps to their faces. She did much good among 
the poor. She was persecuted for her charities 
by some men of the very religious "school of 
thought," whom her dead husband had helped 
to make insolent. She became happy and 
joyous, for her courage was restored to her, 
and, in fighting mean men, who wielded 
nothing but dead laws, she found not a little 
knowledge mixed with delightful humour. 

Julia took to horses, and said they were 
better companions than men. She hunted, to 



MASSTON. 293 

the inexpressible grief of the Bishop, but she 
softened him a little by giving up dancing. 
She never allowed a morning to pass without 
seeing Edith, and every day the two sisters 
quarrelled like lovers, and gave wounds to each 
other for the pleasure they had in healing them, 
To-day it was a cambric cap for Edith, made 
in shape like a coronet, to take the place of 
what Julia would call grave clothes about her 
sister's face ; and another day's fearful struggle 
would be about Julia's rings, and the glittering 
jewels she wore, which the elder sister said 
should be sold and bestowed on the poor, on 
which Julia would laugh, and presently sing 
some old song of days when men were knights 
and women ladies. The sweetness of her voice 
always brought a calm, when Julia would return 
to the argument, for the sole purpose of keep- 
ing up some natural activity. 

"If I sold these emeralds, Mrs. Bashak 
would get them, and wear them, and then there 
would be envy and malice on the part of Mrs. 



294 MASSTON. 

Jehoshaphat. Whilst I wear them they are the 
cause of no envy, but rather of pleasure. Do 
you know that the other day, as I was patting my 
black horse Monostatos on the neck, I caught 
sight of my ungloved hand with these same 
rings on, as it touched his shining coat. And 
since then I have been thinking: how best I can 
manage to make him wear my jewels, they are 
so lovely when seen in motion." 

This harmless extravagance, and playful 
revelling in fancy, always made Edith smile, 
and for one of these sweet messengers of love, 
Julia would give up everything — till the next 
day. 

The immediate claims of Lord Francis were 
paid in full without question by Edith, whose 
fortune, it must be said to Warner's credit, he 
had never touched. The creditors found that, 
with time and a trustworthy manager for the 
Oxford Works, who was found in the person of 
Paul Blanchard, they could not only recompense 
themselves, but could gain much profit. Lord 



f 
MASSTON. 295 

Francis, on the death of Lord Limethorpe, 
returned to Elbston in company with Mr. 
Buckle. The career of the two was not unlike 
that of a well-known Spanish scoundrel and his 
valet ; and when Lord Francis had spent all his 
money, he disappeared as suddenly as did that 
magnificent, musical Don, but whither he went 
is not so certain. 

Did a wedding take place in the chapel of 
the knio-hts at the Hermitage Farm ? or did 
Sarah Armstrong convince Paul Blanchard 
of the impossibility of such a wedding tak- 
ing place ? Did her vivid mind discover- 
that there could be no Eden without its 
garden ? It is not unlikely. But we may be 
sure of this, that whatever choice she made, 
it was determined less by the consideration she 
had for herself than for others. 

Did Dr. Cumberladofe come to see the error 
of his ways, and bring back from heaven the 
boy he had sent there, restored in the form of a 
man to the mother he had robbed ? 



296 MASSTON. 

These, and many other questions of equal 
interest growing out of this piece of human 
patchwork, which the rapid changes of these 
modern times have produced, may be left to the 
ingenuity of our readers, and especially those of 
them who know how to distinguish between 
Masston brass and unminted orold. 

There remains but little more to tell. The 
Oxford Works retain their fame, but under the 
wise rule of their present director they have 
been outstript in show and magnificence, not only 
in Masston, but in many other English towns. 

The roads and lanes which once came up to 
Masston, where grew trees in lofty avenues, 
that seemed to have been planted and trained 
to stateliness and grandeur, by a people who 
appreciated those qualities too highly to allow 
them to become the properties of mortals 
whose staying powers were of the feeblest kind, 
have given way, and gone. The hawthorns 
and hollies which stood between Masston and 
the villages of Russet, Averil, and Leasows, 



MASSTON. 297 

like the sentinels of an army bent on defending 
the shapely fields from a surprise which would 
turn them into clay-pits, gravel-pits, or water- 
holes, have perished, and so have the birds 
which sheltered in their branches. The 
villages have gone the way of the tall trees 
and the avenues, the fields are smothered with 
houses, and the houses are smothered with 
human beings, and the human beings are 
smothered with a malignant fever called debt. 
Not one single member of the human race in that 
great town could possibly mistake a windmill 
for a ofiant, an inn for a castle, or a baesraee 
for a fair lady. They know better, but it may 
be said without fear, that great as is the know- 
ledge of the famous people of Masston, they 
know not everything. As, however, they have 
most certainly found out new lively and pictur- 
esque methods of making money, they will, 
it may be fairly presumed, continue to maintain 
their name and race among the moderns as 
long as the youngest of their kind. 



298 MASSTON. 

The Pudding Bag is now pulled down, and 
the rookeries, as they were called, are abo- 
lished ; and there be some who declare that 
the new national livery of brown and yellow, 
bestowed on their inhabitants in requital of 
giving up their right to live as they wish, has 
not proved so far a success. 

This is a pity. 

Benjamin Jeavons still lives, and has lived 
long enough, he says, since, having seen the 
decay of the two forces which once could sway 
the hearts of men, he has nothing to do now 
but see men grow rich, or well off, and die like 
flies who have eaten poisoned sugar. 

The general dulness in our town is ascribed 
by many tongues to many and different causes : 
the one which chiefly caught our ear, and was 
deemed worthy of notice, was that given by a 
charming young lady whom we have all seen 
and doubtless admired, who said that Masston 
was dull because it had no new books worth 
reading. 



MASSTON. 299 

On that hint we set to work to write some- 
thing about the town itself, and some of the 
people who have helped to make it what it is ; 
and to put into such shape our thoughts and 
feelings as might command the attention of 
Masston itself, and lead it, in the pathetic and 
loving words once addressed by a man who 
followed the plough to the devil, to — 

"Tak' a thocht, and men'." 

And this story is respectfully dedicated to 
the academicians of Masston, its pastors and 
masters, its wise men and its fair women. 



THE END. 



PRINTED BY BALLANTYNE, HANSON AND CO. 
EDINEURGH AND LONDON 



UNIVER9ITY OF ILLINOI9-URBANA 



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